February 12, 2021

Archbishop, students and families celebrate gifts of Catholic education in Mass

Megan and Mike Smith brought their family to the Catholic Schools Week Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Feb. 3. Here, the couple kneels behind Adele and Alex—two of their four children who all attend St. Lawrence School in Indianapolis. Their two older children, Zach and Justin, were seated nearby. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Megan and Mike Smith brought their family to the Catholic Schools Week Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Feb. 3. Here, the couple kneels behind Adele and Alex—two of their four children who all attend St. Lawrence School in Indianapolis. Their two older children, Zach and Justin, were seated nearby. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

As parents, Mike and Megan Smith look for opportunities to show their four children how much they value their Catholic faith and Catholic education.

That’s why they decided to have their family attend the Catholic Schools Week Mass celebrated by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson on Feb. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

“It’s always great to be at the cathedral and be with the archbishop,” Mike said before the Mass, with Megan at his side and Zach, Justin, Adele and Alex—all students at St. Lawrence School in Indianapolis—sitting nearby. “It gives us another opportunity to teach them about the faith.

“And their Catholic education goes hand-in-hand with us being our children’s first educators. We want them to be in a place where their Catholic faith is foremost to them.”

That connection of Catholic faith and education was also the focus of Archbishop Thompson’s homily.

“Among all the ways and reasons for celebrating Catholic Schools Week, the focus of our 2021 theme—‘Faith, Excellence and Service’—provides a wonderful insight into how the nearly 21,000 students in our 68 Catholic schools are being prepared for faithful discipleship and citizenship amid the challenges, hardships and the unfairness of life,” the archbishop said.

“Faith in Jesus Christ is at the very core of all that we are about as Catholics—especially in our Catholic schools. He is the very cornerstone of the foundation for our identity and mission as Church, for which our schools exist. The excellence for which we strive is not merely in academics and athletics, but first and foremost in following and witnessing to the person of Jesus Christ.

“Authentic faith and pursuit of excellence is ultimately realized in our willingness to serve others.”

The archbishop shared that message with those who came to the cathedral and to those watching the Mass via livestream. The livestream option was available to all the Catholic schools in central and southern Indiana.

Because of concerns and restrictions relating to COVID-19, the number of people who came to the annual Mass was less than 100, a contrast to the usual eucharistic celebration of Catholic Schools Week that fills the cathedral with students from all parts of the archdiocese.

Amid the changes and challenges created by the coronavirus crisis, Archbishop Thompson stressed to everyone the importance of having one ultimate, unifying focus.

“When you return to your classroom, I’d invite you to take a good look at the crucifix hanging on the wall,” the archbishop said on the feast day of St. Blaise. “Let it remind you of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death, over the challenges, hardships and the unfairness of this life, assuring us that the best is yet to come—namely, eternal life in all its perfection of what is right, just and holy.

“May it inspire you to live your lives in prayerful relation to him, Jesus Christ, with a spirit of boldness and courage tempered by humility and self-surrender to the Lord.

“May you live your lives of faith in such a way as to reflect the Christ-centered witness of St. Blaise in bringing healing, hope, peace and joy to the lives of others.”

After the Mass, Archbishop Thompson posed for photos with the families and school groups who participated in the Catholic Schools Week Mass.

For most of the photos, everyone wore masks. For a few photos, masks were taken off briefly and then quickly replaced. Emma Morgan was among the students from Roncalli High School in Indianapolis who had a group photo taken with the archbishop.

Besides that opportunity, she also expressed her appreciation of the archbishop’s homily and the Catholic education she is receiving.

“I liked how he talked about our ability to go out and serve—and be the light to other people,” said Emma, a senior at Roncalli and a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis.

“My Catholic education has shown me not only to learn about my faith but how to live my life as a Christian—and take that faith and share it with others.” †

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