Students require quite a few supplies before entering a learning environment. Fortunately, their toolbox — their mind — is within reach.
That’s the message Bishop Gerald N. Dino, bishop of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix — an Eastern Rite Catholic Church — told an assembly of student leaders from Catholic schools across Arizona. Bishop Dino served as homilist for the special liturgy held Feb. 3 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral as part of Catholic Schools Week celebrations. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrated the Mass, joined by the other bishops of Arizona, including Bishop Dino, Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico.
Bishop Dino referenced the carpenter father and son duo mentioned in the Gospel reading. He said Joseph and Jesus needed a hammer, saw and chisel to ensure success.
“All of you students have a toolbox in your heads,” Bishop Dino said during a homily that reached both high school students and the few younger elementary students in the crowd plus plenty in between from largely junior high grade levels.
More than 14,000 students attend one of the 28 Catholic elementary schools, six high schools and 28 preschools serving the Diocese of Phoenix. Some 21,000 Catholic students across Arizona attend a Catholic school.
Bishop Dino reminded them to “hammer away” at the problems in life by relying on their ability to think critically, reason and rationalize situations just like they’re taught to do at Catholic schools. He used the imagery of a saw’s sharp edges to encourage students to become “sharp” or intelligent.
The bishop stressed the need for a chisel too. It helps break away those rough edges of bad manners, less effective study habits and closed-mindedness, he said. He encouraged students to understand differing points of view.
“You have to get inside them to think as they think. Why are they so angry? What do they act the way that they do?” he said.
He referenced the day’s gospel reading that briefly mentioned Jesus teaching in the synagogue and the longer version found in Luke’s gospel. Today’s students, too, should remain engaged with their parents and teachers and not be afraid to ask questions.
“They’re trying to help you get a more important tool: the grace of God,” the bishop said. “This is a tool that will help you to use all of the other gifts you obtain in school properly.”
What God loves most of all, the bishop said, “is when you use those tools to let your light shine on those around you.”
That’s what educators and administrators of Catholic schools excel at. Before the final blessing, MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent for the Diocese of Phoenix, joined Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and a cathedral full of students in honoring 25 years of service for teachers and staff at various schools.
Most of the students proceeded to an all-school rally at Wesley Bolin Plaza following the liturgy. Full story to come.