Peering through the glass doors and windows connecting their school to the parish church, students at St. John Neumann School in Lancaster anxiously awaited and eagerly pointed out the special visitors arriving to celebrate Mass with them on Wednesday morning, April 26.
In conjunction with its Arts Festival, the school hosted Grandparents’ Day, welcoming their beloved family members and “grand friends” for the celebration of Mass by Bishop Ronald Gainer and a tour of the school to showcase their musical and artistic talents.
The church was filled for the Mass, as Bishop Gainer and Father Daniel Powell, pastor, welcomed the grandparents and expressed their gratitude for support of the children’s education in the Catholic faith.
The congregation offered a round of applause for the bishop, whose retirement had been accepted by Pope Francis the day before, and who will continue to serve as shepherd of the Diocese until the Installation of Bishop-designate Timothy Senior on June 21 of this year.
In his homily, Bishop Gainer spoke on the Bread of Life Discourse, the Gospel Reading for the day, and how essential the Eucharist is for our wellbeing.
“Jesus is speaking about the deepest hungers of our human hearts, those things that we really long for and need: love, the truth, goodness,” he said. “Those are the things the human heart longs to have, and the ultimate possession of those is having the person of Jesus Christ in our hearts, in our lives, to feed us with His Body and Blood so that the deepest hungers of every single person are satisfied.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, members of the fifth-grade glass presented a Sign Language interpretation of the song “I Can Only Imagine,” and student Dan Kadwill gifted Bishop Gainer with a beautifully-detailed drawing of his mitre. The school choir was showcased during the Mass, leading the congregation in hymns of praise.
Students then escorted their grandparents and special guests to the school, where Arts Festival displays filled the hallways, classrooms and gymnasium. The showcase offered visitors a full immersion into the students’ artistic talents in art, writing and music.
Kyla Hockley, principal, told The Catholic Witness that welcoming Bishop Gainer and grandparents to the Arts Festival offered a “unique and exciting way for students to showcase their artistic talents in art, writing and music.”
“The arts are strong and vibrant here, and the students are proud to share it,” she said.
Learn more about St. John Neumann School at www.sjncslancaster.org.
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness