The following story appeared in the February 10 Idaho Catholic Register.
Above, Idaho Catholic school students process in to St. Mark’s Church in Boise carrying the banners of their respective schools at the recent Treasure Val-ley Catholic Schools Mass held in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week.
The approximate 4,023 students enrolled in Idaho’s Catholic schools and home-schools attended Mass, held dress-up days and alumni breakfasts all across the state to observe Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 30-Feb. 3.
About 1,700 attended the Treasure Valley Catholic Schools Week Mass, celebrated by Bishop Peter Christensen on Feb. 1.
It was the first time the Treasure Valley schools were able to hold the joint Mass in three years due to the COVID pandemic.
This was also the first year of what many hope will become an annual tradition when alumni of Catholic elementary schools, who now attend Bishop Kelly High School, attended Tuesday morning alumni breakfasts at their former schools. About 300 BK students got up extra early to attend the alumni breakfasts at the elementary school they attended.
At the Mass at St. Mark’s Church, Bishop Peter Christensen encouraged students to listen for those times when God is speaking to them. He told the Old Testament story of Samuel, who hears a voice calling him in the night and doesn’t know its source. The priest in the temple, Eli, told Samuel that the next time he hears the voice, respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3:9) Samuel went on to become a great prophet. “His repeated theme was the message of the importance of honoring the Lord above all else,” the Bishop said.
These altar boys were happy and willing to serve at the Treasure Valley Catholic Schools Mass on Feb. 1 at St. Mark’s Catholic Church. About 1,700 students, as well as teachers and staff attended the Mass celebrated during the nationwide Catholic Schools Week. It was the first time in three years the large Mass could be celebrated due to the COVID pandemic. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)
He told the students that, if they were open, they could hear the voice of God in many ways. “What would have happened if Samuel had not been taught by Eli what to do? Oh, the power of a good teacher!” the Bishop said.
He told the students they would hear God’s voice if they make time to honor God in their lives by surrounding themselves with good, holy friends; spending time reading the scriptures; attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist; reading the lives of the Saints and taking notice of God in the beauty around them.
Bishop Peter mentioned the first time he remembers hearing the voice of God. At age 10, he felt prompted to promise to God that he would be a priest when he grew up and heard God say back to him,
“You will be.”
He told the students that as they are attentive to the voice of God in their lives, they would have nothing to fear. “There is no other phrase spoken more often in the Bible than these four words, ‘Do not be afraid.’ That is said 365 times, once for every day of the year. God wants us to be free of our fears and no longer be captive by other fears.”
The students were welcomed by Tammy Emmerich, superintendent of Idaho’s Catholic schools and heard a homily by Bishop Peter Christensen. Schools represented were St. Mark’s, St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart, St. Joseph’s, St. Ignatius (Meridian) and St. Paul’s (Nampa). Home-schooled students also participated in the annual Mass. Students representing schools from across the state also celebrated Mass and participated in activities to mark the week.
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