Bishop Deeley Visits Mount Merici Academy in Waterville
WATERVILLE---“I got a call and was asked if I would come to Maine to be your bishop. It was not exactly a job interview. Pope Francis sent me here, and how lucky am I? Maine is the way life ought to be. That’s the famous slogan, right?”
The eighth graders laughed after Bishop Deeley answered the question of how he became the bishop of Maine, one of many he happily fielded during a special visit to Mount Merici Academy, an Ursuline school in Waterville, on Wednesday, March 22 (many pictures below).
The school, now in its 113rd year, has imparted the faith to generations of Waterville area students, extending beyond academic excellence to emphasize the value of placing service before self. In one hallway, students looking for motivation could pull an inspirational quote from the “Angela Ladder” featuring slips of paper with thoughts from St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline Order, while in other hallways, students are invited to pull toothpicks from “crowns of thorns” every time they do or observe a good deed. The older students at the academy also told the bishop about how they volunteer weekly at the local soup kitchen and food bank as well as at the Muskie Center, which assists seniors and disabled adults.
The kindness of the academy community was on display from the moment Bishop Deeley arrived as he was welcomed in the parking lot by student ambassadors who guided him into the school for a performance of the school song by pre-kindergarteners and their big “buddies” in the fourth grade.
In the nursery school, the bishop was invited to do puzzles with the children while the kindergartners showed him their work on learning even and odd numbers.
The first graders were busy writing thank you letters to their fifth grade “buddies,” but stopped to ask the bishop many interesting questions about the faith.
“What is a disciple?” asked Alaina.
“A disciple is someone who is learning so they followed Jesus to learn and discover what they should do to help,” said the bishop. “We are disciples. We receive his grace and mercy, but we are also called in our lives to live like him by looking out each other.”
The second graders, who had each made a Lenten promise and written them on paper crosses that hung on the wall, told the bishop about their promises which included being nicer to siblings and praying every morning.
“And what will you do with those promises after Easter?” asked the bishop.
“We’ll keep doing them!” they answered.
In third grade, Bishop Deeley helped the students with their butterfly glyphs, and assisted some of the middle schoolers with their Latin assignment. He played Wordle with sixth graders and learned about the seventh graders’ periodic table project. The bishop visited students eating lunch in the cafeteria and enjoyed a meal with members of the administrative staff. Joining Bishop Deeley in his journey around the academy on Wednesday were Tina St. Pierre, Mount Merici Academy’s Head of School; Marianne Pelletier, superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools; and Suzanne Lafreniere, director of public policy for the Diocese of Portland.
Before departing, Bishop Deeley asked the eighth graders how they have enjoyed their Mount Merici Academy experience.
“It’s like a big family,” said one student.
“I love how everyone treats each other,” said another.
“That’s wonderful,” responded the bishop. “Catholic schools develop the whole person with values who can deal with the world. Attending a Catholic school is a great gift.”