Tuesday, July 23, 2024

During Visit to Lourdes Regional, Bishop Senior Raises Mary as Example of Responding to God’s Will

During a series of visits to the Diocese’s six high schools since the fall, Bishop Timothy Senior has been speaking on a common theme of discernment, encouraging students to listen for God’s will for their lives.

Visiting Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in Coal Township on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, the bishop’s message came with a model: the Blessed Mother.

God had a very special purpose for Mary’s life, one that He prepared her for from the moment she was conceived. When the Angel Gabriel appears to her at the Annunciation, she accepts God’s will for her life, despite her apprehension, the bishop told the students.

“On this day, we call to mind how God’s plan immersed into the life of our Blessed Mother. She discovered why she was created, and that she was prepared from the moment of her conception to be freed from sin. That’s what the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates today,” Bishop Senior said in his homily.

“All of us, in one way or another, repeatedly have to have those moments of accepting the will of God. We do it in little ways – whenever we make the choice to do the right thing, to do good, when we say yes to the opportunity to reach out in service and compassion to others, when we say no to doing something that may be hurtful to others…. When we trust so much in God who loves us beyond measure, we can do His will and accept His plan for our life,” he told the students.

He encouraged the students to remember how fortunate they are to attend a Catholic school. “It allows you, first and foremost, to develop your relationship with God, and to grow in every way – intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually. All of our growth, discernment and plan for our life is rooted in our God, who loves us beyond imagining, who created each one of us according to His holy will, just the way we are,” Bishop Senior said. “In a Catholic school, we can discern God’s will and come to know His plan for our lives, recognizing that He is truly calling us and we can center our lives around Him.”

As a witness of their religious vocations, several Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary renewed their vows in front of the school community during the liturgy; among them was Sister Mary Chapman, IHM, principal of Lourdes.

Several deanery priests who serve as members of the school board concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Senior. After the liturgy, the bishop toured the school and met with members of the school board and student council.

Several students – Celena Nguyen, Jelena Czeponis, Braydon Madden, Jameson Bednar, Nathan Yablonski, Kelstin Green and Kodi Patrovich spoke with The Witness about their excitement of welcoming the bishop, and what they want him and others to know about their school.

“His visit means a lot because he is ‘the big guy,’ and he’s who we all look up to. We want to make him proud,” Jelena said.

“It’s an honor to have him here,” said Braydon, who recalled annual visits from previous bishops during his time at Lourdes, which is a PreK4-12 school. “I hope to see him again in many more years.”

Classmate Nathan said he was inspired by the message Bishop Senior shared in his homily. “I found it inspiring because I’ve had a couple people come up to me and say that I might have a vocation to the priesthood,” he said. “Seeing the bishop today, and learning about what he does, is inspiring to me.”

The six students echoed one another’s thoughts about Lourdes, expressing appreciation for their faith-based education, support and care from teachers, and the school’s family-like atmosphere.

“I love that Lourdes is a tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody, and we’re all friends and family here,” Celena said.

“I love the community that we share here,” said Kelstin. “Everyone’s got your back, and if you’re at your lowest, they’ll work to bring you back to a high.”

Learn more about Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School at www.lourdesregional.com.

(Photos by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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