When Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrates Mass at Diocese of Venice Catholic schools he challenges the students to take upon a task during the coming year to help them grow closer to the Lord. This year, he asked them to pray more often.
This was the challenge given to the students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral on Oct. 21, 2020.
To introduce the concept of an increased prayer life, Bishop Dewane first asked the students how many of them want to be friends with Jesus. After a bit of a hesitation they all raised their hands.
“When you want to be friends with someone, you talk to them, you speak to them often and you come to know them and become friends,” the Bishop explained. “With cell phones you communicate a lot. Well, one way is to communicate with the Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints, is through prayer.”
Prayer is important, particularly during the time of a global pandemic, Bishop Dewane continued. Signs of the pandemic were everywhere, as students wore masks and were seated apart and the Mass was livestreamed to the students who were learning virtually from home.
“Do you think you can pray more this year?” “Yes!!” the students enthusiastically replied.
“I accept that. I know you can. During this time, we need to remain united in prayer. Sometimes we must keep a distance to be safe, but that doesn’t have to mean we are distant from the person. Jesus is in Heaven but also close to us. We can be close to Him in a different way, through prayer.”
The Bishop said he will ask the teachers to encourage more daily prayer and that the students should include not only each other but also the people of the Parish who sacrifice to support the school.
“I never ask you anything I think you can’t do,” Bishop Dewane concluded. “You all have to discipline yourselves when you might not feel like praying. Take the time to talk to Jesus. Talk to His Mother Mary. Pray to the Patron Saint of your School, St. Andrew. Know that I pray for you daily. Be young men and women of prayer.”
After the conclusion of Mass, the eighth graders were brought forward to take an oath of leadership. Following the oath, Bishop Dewane presented each with a pin marking them as St. Andrew Catholic School Leaders.
When they were dismissed to returned to school, Bishop Dewane wished them each a blessed day and school year. They also did elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes.
After the younger students left, Bishop Dewane spoke with the eighth graders and encouraged them to consider choosing Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers where he assured them that they would excel. He also answered their questions which ranged from what the Bishop does, likes and dislikes, to in-depth inquiries which focused on the Church teachings on a variety of subjects. Before returning to the classroom, Bishop Dewane stood for a group photo with the eighth graders.