November 21, 2008

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Thoughtful spirit in students’ letters offers a good example

Earlier in this school year, I received letters from the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Mary School in Aurora.

The seventh- and eighth-graders had written before when they learned of my cancer last spring.

The intent of their recent letters was to tell me they were happy that I am in remission, and that they continue to pray for me. They also made a point of saying they pray daily for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Several of the seventh-graders said they look forward to receiving the sacrament of confirmation next May 3 during the celebration of the archdiocese’s 175th anniversary in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The eighth-graders were looking forward to seeing me at confirmation on Sunday, Oct.12.

I feel bad that I was not able to confirm them and others, too. I have had to invite substitutes to stand in for me at the fall confirmations because recovery from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy has been slow.

I enjoy letters from our youths. I am always fascinated by what they want to tell me. Here are a few samples.

In a spirited testimony of faith, Adam wrote: “Hi! Did you know that we are praying for you each day? Twelve people [sixth-graders] praying for a great guy like you might actually work. God can work in mysterious ways. We are also praying for good vocations to the priesthood. …”

Josh wrote: “My class prays for you to recover and I think it worked. … I am very glad that you feel better and still continue to be our bishop.”

Hannah wrote: “God is a big part of my life. He has helped me through everything. I will keep praying for you and hope you will pray for us, too.”

Some students tell of their love and concern for others. Sara wrote: “I love my family, even though my brothers Ben and Alex can be a pain. I also love my friends. They are a little goofy like me, but I love them. You are in our prayers. God bless!”

Brad wrote: “One of my friend’s mom is in a hospital. She is not doing good. If you could pray for her. … She has cancer, too. My best friend just had his birthday today.”

Cancer is on the mind of Jeremy, too: “Do you know what’s weird? My grandpas both had cancer. One of them is dead, the other is in good health. I think my great uncle has cancer, but no one else. They’re about all the people I know who have cancer.”

Most of the students wrote about their participation in sports. Jeremy’s letter went on to say: “I like to play sports like soccer, baseball and basketball. I also do Tai-Kwan-Do, swimming and drumming. I consider two of those sports, but I’m not sure you do.”

The Colts and Bengals got quite a bit of coverage. Jonathon commented: “One of the reasons I like it here at St. Mary’s so much is that our principal is a huge Colts fan, just like me. … Please remember him in your prayers, as well as us.”

Luke wrote: “My favorite sports are soccer and wrestling. But I like to watch all sports from football to NASCAR. My favorite team is the Cincinnati Bengals. I know the Colts might be your favorite team, but I won’t hold that against you. God bless, and I’m praying for you.”

Jonathon tells the benefits of being in the eighth grade: “I’m in the 8th grade. Being in 8th grade is awesome! We get to be first in line at lunch and, on Fridays, we get to run errands for our teacher. We also get to participate at Mass more. At every school Mass, four of us are collectors.”

Food became an item for a couple of students. Leonardo wrote: “What kind of food do you like to eat? My favorite food is Mexican food. Have you ever heard of Molle? It is really good. The ingredients are chocolate, toasted peppers, toasted bread crumbs, water and nuts. Even though it sounds weird, it is delicious. Well, I hope you feel better.”

Angelo wrote: “My favorite food is hot wings. I love it when the wings are so hot that they bring a tear to your eye. … I can’t wait to write to you again. We will continue to pray for you.”

Adam’s remarks seem to typify all of the letter writers. “People tell me that I am really industrious and inventive. I like to make people laugh, and I’m pretty good at it. God bless you, Archbishop Daniel.”

The balance of lighthearted and thoughtful spirits is a good example for all of us, especially in gray November! †

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