Bishop Deeley Celebrates Advent Mass at Cheverus High School in Portland
PORTLAND---“As we quickly see the days of Advent disappear, and we prepare to welcome Christmas once again, the message for us is simple. Live in the story you hear.”
The words of Bishop Robert Deeley fell upon hundreds of students, staff, alumni, and parents gathered together at Cheverus High School on Tuesday morning, December 20, at the school’s annual Advent Mass (gallery of pictures below).
Trees with ornaments representing the school colors and a variety of decorations adorned the hallways and classrooms, and the spirit of the season could be found inside the gym on the faces of those in attendance filled with excitement and anticipation at the arrival of Christmas.
“Christmas is not, of course, just an opportunity for a break,” the bishop told the students. “There is, as we hear along the way, a ‘reason for the season.’ In Christmas, we celebrate the coming into our world of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He comes in the darkest time of the year to be our light. His message to us is a call to live in his light. He shows us a way to live.”
Bishop Deeley reminded the students that by listening and thinking about the stories in Scripture, they can discover who God is and what he is calling them to be in school and in life. The bishop related Tuesday’s Gospel, when the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary and asks her to be the mother of Jesus, to the young people.
“She was probably the age of the sophomores here this morning. This historic event, then, takes place in a specific place, to a specific person. This is God’s plan. He doesn’t call us as a group, or a team. He calls each one of us personally, and by our own name, because he loves each one of us as a son or daughter,” said Bishop Deeley. “Our faith as Catholics and Christians is lived in the community of the Church, but it involves a personal relationship with Jesus. Do I ever feel the opposite? Do I ever feel like just a number? That’s not how God intends it. That is not what faith tells us. My relationship with God in Jesus is personal just as it was for Mary. As such, this beautiful story of Mary reminds us, each of us, that we should be attentive to the way in which God calls us. Just as the angel, God’s messenger, called Mary by name, so too does God call each of us by name.”
The bishop said that each of us can be a person who carries forth the mission of God.
“Each of us can help save the world, with God’s grace. Each of us is called to a great and unique vocation. To what great mission is God calling me? Do I realize that my life can be great, if I live it with the love God shows me? The message of Christmas comes alive again when each of us says our own ‘yes’ to what God asks of us. Listen and hear. Jesus is calling us. May we, like Mary, open ourselves to his voice in our hearts.”
The Advent Mass was concelebrated by several priests, including Fr. Robert Pecoraro, S.J., the president of Cheverus; Fr. Kevin Hughes, S.J., a theology teacher at Cheverus; and Fr. Sean Hagerty, S.J., who served at Cheverus during his formation before being ordained to the priesthood in June.
The school also hosted a young alumni reception following the Mass, an opportunity for those gathered to further celebrate the season and a special school community.
“This is a school that finds itself in the great tradition of Catholic education. It is grounded in faith and striving always for academic excellence. In my mind, these two realities are closely joined,” Bishop Deeley told the students. “The purpose of the school is to form each of you for life, to help you to listen to the God who has created each of you and respond to what God asks of you in living your life.”
Winter break at Cheverus begins on Wednesday with students returning to classes on January 4.