Do hamsters have guardian angels? Chew on that question for a while and let me know what answer you decide on.
It was posed to me on Wednesday by one of the younger members of an 800-strong group of students from Catholic schools in the Finger Lakes region who gathered at St. Stephen in Geneva for a Eucharistic Liturgy commemorating “The Year For The Priest.”
What a joyful experience it was to sing and pray and celebrate with such a lively, engaged and engaging assembly. The young people from prekindergarten through high school brought a zest, a spirit with them that strengthened my faith and renewed my hope. And, although I had no chance to chat with my 13 brother priests who concelebrated, I have little doubt that their reactions were much the same as my own. There is just something special in the way these young people carry themselves. I did have a chance after the celebration to converse with several other adults who shared the experience. They were clearly moved by the goodness and beauty of our young friends.
We were helped to pray by student lectors; a choir from St. Francis-St. Stephen School, Geneva; and a bell choir from St. Mary in Canandaigua. They carried out their tasks with considerable skill, but what impressed me most and what I will remember longest is the shining and humble spirit they brought to them.
The gathering was another concrete reminder to me of how the convictions, values and courtesies that our schools strive to teach our young people truly do get through to them and inform their lives. In the packed church that morning, there was never a doubt that it was filled with exuberant children. Yet there was no doubt either that, interwoven with all that was so beautifully visible and audible to us, there was among even the youngest a quieter, more subtle tone of mutual respect for one another and concern.
In addition to the schools mentioned above, the children came from St. Joseph School, Auburn; St. Michael School, Newark; St. Michael School, Penn Yan; Ss. Peter and Paul School, Auburn; and De Sales High School, Geneva.
Thirteen priests from the region concelebrated the liturgy. In a very touching moment after the Communion rite, students presented to each one of the priests a lapel pin commemorating the “Year For The Priests” — all of this done with the support of a prolonged standing ovation by all in the church.
By happy coincidence, I will have another opportunity this week to pray and talk with another major constituency of our Catholic-schools effort — the teachers in our elementary and junior high schools. They will assemble for Superintendent’s Day with Anne Willkens Leach at Siena Academy in Brighton. I very much look forward to being with them on that occasion.
I ask you please to continue to pray for God’s blessing on our Catholic-school apostolate. As we know, the challenges are many but it is a rich one in the history and current reality of our diocese
Well, what about the hamster? The guardian angel? The best I could come up with to say is that the hamster is one of God’s creatures and therefore good; and that God supports their life. Whether God assigns a guardian angel to each? I’m not too sure!
Peace to all.