Cape Coral | During the first month of the 2018-2019 academic year Bishop Frank J. Dewane has been celebrating the Mass for the students at each of the 15 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Venice.
The theme for the Masses has been to encourage the students to heed the call from the Lord by becoming a better people in all aspects of their lives. The Bishop explained in its most basic terms each student needs to have kindness, compassion and goodness toward others.
When the students at each school were asked if they could do that, the response was an enthusiastic “Yes!”
“It’s important to me that you do understand and that you make that commitment,” Bishop Dewane continued. “I want you to take that lesson and use it in school, but also at home and elsewhere. I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t think you could do it.”
Each school Mass was celebrated as a Mass of Holy Spirit. This is signified as the Mass intentions called upon the Holy Spirit to bless the schools and their students during the coming school year. In addition, the Bishop and priest concelebrants wore red vestments.
At St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, after the conclusion of the Mass Aug. 31, the eighth-grade students made a pledge to be leaders of the school in a responsible manner spiritually, academically and athletically. The students were then presented a leadership pin by the Bishop and Diocese Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ben Moore.
Following the Sept. 6 Mass at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, the Bishop was presented with a t-shirt from a representative of the St. Francis House of the student government. He received a different colored t-shirt in 2017 from a different House leader.
At the Masses for the elementary/middle schools, the Bishop made a point to meet with the eighth graders. He offered them motivation to be the true leaders of their respective schools and encourage them to attend the nearest Catholic high school next year.
Following each elementary/middle school Mass, the Bishop has a tradition of inviting the eighth-graders to stay behind which offers the opportunity to give them encouragement for the upcoming year.
“Everything I said to the other student applies doubly to each of you, because you are older, and you better understand what I ask of you,” Bishop said. “I say this, because you are now the leaders of the school and young ones will follow your example. Take this responsibility seriously.”
The eighth graders were given the opportunity to ask the Bishop any question they chose. Most of these questions focused on his background and the best parts of being a Bishop. The Bishop in turn stressed the importance of being strong students in all areas of study, including language arts and in learning a foreign language. The skills they will learn from these courses will benefit them far into the future. The talk concluded with a group photo.
Bishop Dewane was joined during the Masses by priests from nearby Parishes. The Bishop expressed his gratitude for their support of Catholic education.
During the Masses at the elementary schools, where many parents participated, he took particular time to address the parents, acknowledging how they are always the first and best educators of the children. He thanked the parents for putting their support into the Schools, as he realizes they have other options. The Diocese makes a huge commitment of resources to serve these students in an effort to help them grow in their Faith.