| By Bishop Steven J. Raica

‘Go teach all nations’

Bishop Tells Educators to Share Their Knowledge of Christ

On Sept. 16, Bishop Raica celebrated Mass at John Carroll Catholic High School, kicking off a day of formation for principals as well as faculty and staff of schools throughout the diocese. The complete text of the bishop’s homily follows herein.

My dear partners in education, thank you for this opportunity to be with you this morning. We gather near the beginning of the academic year to remind ourselves once again of our purpose and vision. As teachers and administrators, you share in a noble calling which has its basis in our Lord’s command of Apostolic mission – “Go teach all nations” after spending time with the Master. Even the disciples begged our Lord, “Teach us to pray.” They identified a hunger not merely for knowledge, but a relationship with the infinite.  

Similarly, St. Paul includes “administrators” among the diversity of callings that have a noble purpose. 

With Margaret DuBose and Katie Zielinski on the diocesan team, to our presidents, principals, teachers, and staff along with our parents and parishes, we form a partnership that illustrates the leadership and accompaniment necessary for our students to grow and thrive in not just any environment, but one that is Catholic and imbued with the hallmarks of Christian faith.

This Christian faith is more than intellectually articulating doctrines and teachings of the Church. It is rather to introduce one and provide a favorable environment whereby we can encounter Christ Himself. The Gospel narratives are more than reporting of things that happened two thousand years ago. It is a snapshot of how the Christian experience functions. It tells those stories that come oftentimes by surprise to an encounter that is life-changing and life-giving. They encounter the fact that Christ is alive. Fundamentally and essentially, that is the foundation of our Gospel message. Christ is alive and we can bump into this reality with all the surprise and wonder that those in the Gospel met Christ in their day. In that sense, it is a mirror of what is happening even today.

The courses we teach and the mission of every school are aimed at introducing one to reality, to utilize and develop the gifts of reason, to learn the factors to make critical judgements, and to open one’s heart up to the infinite reality that is a Mystery with a face, namely Christ Himself.

This fundamental message of hope and life, that resonates and echoes in my heart, is one that beats today in every member of our educational team. No one is unimportant in our schools. Everyone plays a significant part of walking with our students to discover themselves before the very Mystery. It is a moment like that of John the Baptist, who points the way and says, “Look!” Every class, every sport, helps us to develop that capacity to “look” at the deeper reality and the part that we play in it, keeping our eyes fixed on the goal before us as we remain filled with enthusiasm and excitement.

Today’s Gospel gives us a glimpse of that with Jesus, journeying from one town or village to another, preaching and proclaiming the Good News. There seems to be an urgency – He can’t stay long enough to see the project ended but leaves some seeds behind for others to finish what He’s started. Yes, there were the women who accompanied Him – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others. Some of these women play a significant and powerful role and will be the first to announce that Jesus is alive after the resurrection. They will take up the Apostolic Mission by what they witnessed.

St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians similarly echoes the foundation of what I’ve already mentioned. If there is no resurrection from the dead, then neither has Christ been raised – our preaching is empty and so is our faith, we are false witnesses to God, and we should just pack everything up and go home. No, Christ is alive. Those who have witnessed Christ to me in my moments of weakness draw me close to the very witness of Christ in my own life.

Our faith is not dead. It is alive. It is alive throughout the Diocese of Birmingham, especially in those who bring this Good News to our schools and institutions – priests, administrators, faculty, and staff. Christ will be present to us and to our students. Through your mission and work, help them to “look”! Help them to see what you see! Witness the joy of the relationship you have with Christ! We are not alone but guided by the power of the One Who saves – and His name is Jesus Christ!

Then, like our responsorial, we can acclaim: “Lord, when Your glory appears, my joy will be full.” May God bless you all!

Caption: Father Kevin Bazzel leads a formation session during the diocesan-sponsored day of formation for school administrations, faculty and staffs. (Photograph courtesy of John Carroll Catholic High School)