Bishop at Catholic Schools Week Mass in Rock Island: ‘Put Jesus in the center’
ROCK ISLAND — Math, science, history and English are important subjects, but Catholic schools offer something more, something eternal, Bishop Louis Tylka said at a Mass marking the end of Catholic Schools Week.
“To put Jesus in the center of all we do, to put Jesus at the center of how we live our lives — he is the same yesterday, today and forever,” he told the students from Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in East Moline, Seton Catholic School in Moline, and Jordan Catholic School and Alleman High School, both in Rock Island, on Feb. 3.
The Catholic Schools Week celebration was hosted by Alleman and filled its Don Morris Gymnasium with song, prayer and life. Joining the students were their principals and pastors.
Representatives from all four schools formed a choir directed by Abby Berg, the music teacher at Jordan Catholic and the band and choir director at Alleman. Accompanying them were Michelle Keller, the music teacher at Seton Catholic, on the piano; and Alleman students Cael Reger on drums, and Liana Tillberg and Claire Reger on guitars.
Sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic Schools Week is held annually from the last Sunday in January to the first Saturday in February. This year’s observance took place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4.
LIVING FOR JESUS
Bishop Tylka called it a blessing to be able to gather and celebrate Catholic schools as they were doing that morning.
“You have been given the opportunity by the sacrifices of your parents and the church to have an education that is rooted in Christ,” he said.
Learning the ways of Jesus and being his disciple makes it possible to “live out your faith and give witness to the one who has saved us, the one who shows us love and mercy, the one who makes all the difference in our lives,” the bishop told his young listeners.
He also asked them to consider the life and sacrifice of John the Baptist, who was the subject of Mark’s Gospel passage that day. Even though John recognized that he was probably going to have to give his own life, he stayed true to who he was, Bishop Tylka explained.
“There are many challenges in our world and in our communities, and sometimes even in our own families,” he said. “(The world) says we can set aside our faith, we don’t have to live for Jesus. But we have to stay true to who we are — followers of Christ, followers of the Lord, witnesses to all that Jesus teaches and says.
“In the end, if we’re not true to who we are, how can we say that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Bishop Tylka asked.
Encouraged by the gift of the Eucharist at the center of our lives and the Holy Spirit who empowers us, he said that when the world tells us things can be done differently we can respond, “No. I’m going to do it the right way. I’m going to do it the way we are called to do as believers in God and disciples of Jesus Christ.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
At the end of Mass, students from Seton Catholic read the story of the starfish. It tells of a girl who was throwing back into the sea starfish that had washed up on shore. One observer said she didn’t seem to be making much of a difference, since she was only able to save one starfish at a time.
“It made a difference to that one,” the girl said, after throwing another one back.
They presented a framed copy of the story to Bishop Tylka. He also received cards with the thanks of the other schools.
The Mass was celebrated on the Feast of St. Blaise and the bishop offered a general blessing of throats to all present.