“God uses other people around us to make the impossible possible,” Bishop Nelson Perez told students, faculty, staff, parents and others attending Mass on April 9 at St. Mary of the Assumption School in Mentor.
It was the celebration of the Annunciation, the day that Mary learned she would become the mother of Jesus. Although the feast normally is celebrated on March 25, the bishop explained that day was Palm Sunday, so it was moved to April 9.
“We remember the miraculous birth of Jesus today,” Bishop Perez said, “and his miraculous rising from the dead.”
He said in the early days of the Church, Christians would greet each other saying, “He is risen.”
In fact, the bishop said the Church stopped the Easter season to celebrate the Annunciation. It must have been hard for the Blessed Mother to comprehend what the angel was telling her.
“He said she would have a child, but she didn’t understand how that could be. She didn’t say it was OK, instead, she asked how it could be,” he said. “She would have the child in a miraculous way.”
Bishop Perez said the disciples asked similar questions as they tried to understand Jesus rising from the dead. “They were asking, ‘How can this be?’” he said. “These stories from the Bible show us things that seem impossible can always be possible with God.”
He told the 430 St. Mary students they should imitate the trust of the early Christians and their acceptance of God’s power. “You see God’s love and care for you every day through your parents. They make it possible for you to go to this school by paying tuition. There’s also another group, the parishioners. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible,” he said, explaining that parishioners also support the school and parish.
He asked the students to be sure and thank their parents and teachers for their love and support.
The children also were asked to share some thoughts on what they think makes St. Mary School special. Answers ranged from the church, to writing papers, lunch – especially Mexican pizza, one student said – the teachers, special visitors like Bishop Perez and homework.
“How many of you like homework?” the bishop asked, as few hands went up. “How about writing papers?” Again, only a few hands popped up.
The principal, Mary Benns, teachers, parents and parishioners were asked to stand and be acknowledged. Bishop Perez also asked the eighth-graders who will be graduating to raise their hands and the second-graders, who will make their first Communion on May 4.
“Maybe you can have Mexican pizza that day,” he quipped.
After Mass, the bishop greeted people at the door and posed for photos before heading to the school building for a brief tour.
Benns pointed out the hundreds of small, blue handprints on the cream-colored walls in the main school hallway, explaining to Bishop Perez that each student puts his or her handprint on the wall when they join the school community. The names are printed beneath. She said it is a way of keeping students – past and present – connected to the school. It also ties in with the school motto, “Hand in hand, together, we are one in Christ.”
Bishop Perez also stopped in several classrooms for a brief visit before eating lunch with a group of students and faculty members.