SOUTH PORTLAND---“Why do we give up things for Lent?” asked Bishop Deeley.
“To sacrifice because Jesus died on the cross for us to forgive our sins,” said second grader Lilian Colbath.
“That’s right! Why did he die for sins?” responded the bishop.
“Because God loves us!” said the second-grade class.
The moment was one of many indelible scenes that played out during Bishop Robert P. Deeley’s visit to Holy Cross School in South Portland on Wednesday, February 24. The bishop visited each classroom in the school (Pre-K through Grade 8), learning about science projects from third and fourth graders, reading books to the younger children, and listening to “It’s Time for Lent”, sung by the pre-kindergarteners.
Bishop Deeley also spoke about the importance of the Holy Year of Mercy, congratulating the Holy Cross students for the many service projects they have already completed.
“We are doing these things to help others,” the bishop told the third and fourth graders. “In this Year of Mercy, as we take care of people, we are reminded that Jesus takes care of us and loves us. Mercy is the way that God helps us help one another.”
Each first-grade student prepared a special question for the bishop pertaining to the things he did and liked when he was in the first grade.
“What was your favorite subject?” asked one first grader.
“Reading,” said the bishop to the surprise of the class. “When you read, you get to learn things about people, places, and different times in history. That’s wonderful!”
When visiting the eighth graders who will soon prepare to enter high school, Bishop Deeley asked the students to always remember the lessons learned and experiences had at Holy Cross.
“Catholics schools are about recognizing the special nature of who we are and the importance of each of us as human beings,” said the bishop. “The gifts that you have are unique to you, and your teachers are trying to take those gifts and help you use them so you can become the person you are capable of being. All of the service projects and the corporal works of mercy you do show that you understand that you are a better person when you help and care about other persons. Being in a Catholic school, you can find out how God enters your life and how he can help you in your life.”
A special prayer service, attended by all Holy Cross students, staff, and faculty, was held at Holy Cross Church when Bishop Deeley arrived on Wednesday morning.
At the end of the service, to thank him for his work throughout the diocese, the students presented the bishop with gifts, including a dish with a painted cross made with the thumb prints of each Holy Cross student.