“Catholic schools are special because they aren’t just about the things you learn,
they are also about the values you learn.”
---Bishop Robert P. Deeley
AUBURN---On Wednesday, the students at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn wore Polo shirts with popped collars, boat shoes, chinos, and sweaters, many tied loosely around their necks to capture the spirit of “Preppy Day” at the school.
A switch from traditional outfits is taking on a new twist each day as the school holds clothing theme events as part of its celebration of New England Catholic Schools Week (November 4-10).
Though he wore his regular attire, Bishop Robert P. Deeley was happy to join in the fun as he paid a visit to the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at the school on November 7 (additional pictures below).
“A lot of the kids had to Google what ‘preppy’ meant,” Donald Fournier, principal of the Auburn Campus, told Bishop Deeley.
In addition to their clothing choice, as part of their homework, students were tasked to think of a question they’d always wanted to ask the bishop.
“Did you want to be anything other than a priest when you were a kid?” asked a seventh grader.
“I gave real thought to becoming a lawyer. I found I was good at arguing with my mother, so I thought I could do that,” answered the bishop as the students laughed.
When the bishop takes questions at elementary schools, children are more interested in things like his favorite color, food, or sports team. In a display of their developing minds and perceptiveness, the questions from the middle school students took on a different tone.
“Have you ever spoken to God?” asked a sixth-grade girl.
“God speaks to us in different ways. When we look for God to speak with us, we go to the places where we believe God has already spoken and we reflect, like on the Bible stories,” said the bishop. “I don’t think hearing the voice of God or having a vision or something happens to many people. God communicates with us through one another and through the Word he gives us in the Bible. As we take the time to pray, that Word takes root in our hearts and changes us.”
“What inspired you to become a figure of importance in the Church?” asked an eighth-grade girl.
“I don’t think of myself as a figure of importance. That’s the first thing,” said the bishop. “I just wanted to be a priest who teaches, preaches, and leads people to God. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I continue to do. I try to help people understand Jesus and draw closer to Jesus. That’s what I enjoy doing.”
Bishop Deeley also got a turn to ask questions of the students, including how they felt about going to a Catholic school.
“It’s great. We freely express our thoughts about faith,” said one sixth grader.
“In public school, you can’t speak about faith. Here, we can talk about God and Jesus,” said another.
“That’s right! Catholic schools are special because they aren’t just about the things you learn, they are also about the values you learn,” said the bishop. “What we believe affects how we live and what we do.”
The bishop also spoke to the freshman class at the academy and ate lunch with staff members before departing.
New England Catholic Schools Week is designed to honor the past, shine a light on the present, and look forward to a promising future for Catholic education.
For more information about New England Catholic Schools Week and the events planned at many Maine schools, click here.