Bishop Salvatore R. Matano took to the Internet March 19 to tell Catholic-school students throughout the Diocese of Rochester that he is proud of the way they’re handling their unexpected shift to online learning after their schools closed earlier this week in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I am so very proud of you, your teachers, our principals, your wonderful parents, all who are supporting you, our wonderful young people, during a very difficult time. I’m sure you understand now that there are restrictions to what we can do, where we can go, and it is not an easy time, especially for young people who like to be in so many different activities, whether they are school programs or athletic programs,” Bishop Matano said during the live videoconference on the Zoom videoconferencing platform. After the conference ended, a recording of the videoconference was posted on the Diocese of Rochester’s YouTube channel.
Bishop Matano told the students he’s heard from their principals and James Tauzel, the superintendent of diocesan schools, that they’re working hard and handling the transition well. He also told the students he missed their presence in the schools and at Mass — as concerns about the virus also have forced the cancellation of all public Masses in the diocese — and assured them of his continued prayers.
“You’re very much in my prayers. I really look forward to the day when I can see you all again,” the bishop told the students, noting that some of his happiest memories are visiting with them in local Catholic schools and celebrating with them during the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
The bishop also thanked Catholic-school teachers for working tirelessly in order to help their students adapt to online learning. The love they’ve always shown for their students within the classroom now extends far beyond the walls of those classrooms, he said. He thanked principals for the work they’ve done to enable their students and faculty to continue working together, and he thanked the parents of Catholic-school students for the sacrifices they make in order to send their children to Catholic schools and pledged his support of and prayers for the families.
“I love the celebration of holy Mass with our children, and to the extent now this is not possible, it’s a great loss for me, but I do offer Mass every day, and I see before my eyes the countless faces of children, parents, teachers and staff who are a part of our Catholic-school family. As I celebrate holy Mass, you truly are with me in spirit.”
“I would like to conclude this meeting with you by asking our Mother Mary to take you under her maternal mantle of love and to protect all our Catholic-school families, and your families, and to ask her son Jesus to heal the sick and to bring the present times we are in to a resolve, so that once again our schools will be open, our churches will be open, and all God’s people in a safe place,” Bishop Matano said.