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Bishop Urges Students To Put Their Faith In Action

Bishop Charles C. Thompson visits with with seniors from the diocese of Evansville's four Catholic high schools before the Feb. 1 Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral. The Message photos by Tim Lilley

During the Feb. 1 Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville, Bishop Charles C. Thompson urged students from the Diocese of Evansville’s 26 Catholic schools to put their faith in action.

“We are called to grow as members of the community,” the bishop said in his homily. “Our schools prepare people to be involved in our community.  We must put our faith in action. Those who accept Jesus and accept his teaching are his disciples. That is the core of what we celebrate in Catholic schools … to know Jesus and to know how to bring others to him by the witness of our lives.”

Bishop Thompson told the young people that he recognizes and appreciates all of their great academic and athletic achievements – and their Catholic identity.

“As Bishop, my goal when it comes to Catholic schools is to make sure that, in the midst of all the great things that you do, there is a strong Catholic identity,” he said. He asked students in attendance what they thought of when they heard the term Catholic identity. Responses included going to Mass, serving others and receiving the Sacraments.

“Who is the center of all that? Jesus Christ,” the bishop said. “How Christ-centered are we in our lives? I look for that answer on the playground and the sports field, in the gym and the cafeteria. Are we remaining Christ-centered even beyond the doors and walls of our schools? Are we being consistent in the ways of Christ and the ways of our faith?”

Bishop Thompson discussed the 2017 theme for Catholic Schools Week :”Catholic Schools, Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

It’s one thing to know about Jesus,” he told the students. “It’s another to have a relationship with him. That relationship translates into service.”

He also discussed the 2016-17 diocesan theme for Catholic schools – “Educate, inspire and proclaim.”

“Together, we proclaim our faith by our words and our deeds,” he said. “In today’s gospel (the reading for Feb. 1, which is Mark 6: 1-6), Jesus proclaims the word of God. The people kind of write him off. His own relatives had difficulty accepting Jesus because of the way they perceived he should be. They had difficulty accepting him as the Son of God because of who they thought he was.”

The bishop talked about how our perceptions of whom and what are good or popular impact how we view ourselves. “When focusing on the things we don’t have, we start to diminish the precious gift of who we are,” he said. “We fail to appreciate the gifts we have by focusing on the things we perceive we are lacking.”

Eighteen priests of the Diocese of Evansville concelebrated Mass with Bishop Thompson. All serve as pastor or associate pastor of parishes with Catholic schools. Deacon David Seibert and Deacon Joseph Siewers assisted.

Bishop Thompson and Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daryl Hagan thanked St. Benedict Cathderal Parish for hosting the annual Mass and the planning committee from Evansville’s Mater Dei High School for organizing the Mass. Each of the diocese’s four high schools are responsible for the annual Catholic Schools Mass on a rotating basis.