Archbishop calls students to let light shine

Jazlyn Rodriguez dreams of being a police officer and starting a family dedicated to Christ.

“Hopefully I could teach them well,” the eighth-grader at St. Bernadette School in Bellevue said about her desired future family.

Amaya Sims, an eighth-grader at Holy Name School in Omaha, wants to be a veterinarian — and a prayerful one.

Amaya is a Baptist whose Catholic education has helped her learn to pray, she said, and she particularly likes silent prayer.

“Being at Holy Name, I know how to connect with God,” she said.

Jazlyn and Amaya were just the sort of students Archbishop George J. Lucas had in mind as he gave his homily Jan. 31 at a Catholic Schools Week Eighth-Grade Mass at St. Cecilia Cathedral. He celebrated another Mass for rural eighth-graders Jan. 29 at St. Mary Church in Norfolk.

He called them – along with about 1,200 other eighth-graders from Omaha-area Catholic schools – to bring the light from their relationship with God, which their schools have helped kindle, out into the world to share with others.

Students representing each of the nearly 30 elementary schools in attendance carried banners of their schools in a colorful procession beginning and ending the Mass.

Students also participated as lectors, musicians, singers and ushers. All wore their uniforms, filing into the cathedral from buses, filling pews and additional folding chairs set up to handle the overflow.

For some, it was their first time in the archdiocese’s mother church, and they were invited to take in the art and architecture.

Jazlyn marveled at the huge gathering of students, pointing to it as just one Catholic schools perk. “We actually get this,” she said, looking around. “Public schools don’t.”

Many parish priests concelebrated the Mass with Archbishop Lucas and helped distribute holy Communion.

In his homily, the archbishop reflected on the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus asked his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?”

“We’re supposed to be having an influence on other people,” the archbishop told the eighth-graders.

In the early church the apostles weren’t trying to show off their closeness to Jesus, he said. But they also weren’t ashamed to let people see them as followers of Jesus.

Christians aren’t called to be “secret disciples,” Archbishop Lucas said. Instead, Jesus sends out his followers to let the light of their faith illuminate the way for others. “How else are they going to find out about Jesus if not through us?”

The archbishop told the students that he is grateful for them and prays for them: that no matter where they go, they will stay close to Jesus, listen to his word and pray, be generous and compassionate and that they will let their light shine in their school communities and beyond – so all follow Christ to eternal life.

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