More than 400 students in grades pre-school through 8 at Holy Family School in Stow welcomed Bishop Nelson Perez to their campus on April 10.
The bishop began his visit by celebrating Mass in the parish church. Concelebrants were Father Paul Rosing, pastor, and Father Michael Ausperk and Father Kevin Klonowski, parochial vicars. Deacon John Green assisted.
“Ordination is in the air,” Bishop Perez told the students and others at Mass during his homily. He said the first of three diocesan ordinations took place on April 6 when he ordained two seminarians as transitional deacons, a role they will have for a year until their ordination to the priesthood.
“I will ordain four men as permanent deacons on May 4 and two weeks later, nine deacons will be ordained as priests. That’s a big class,” the bishop said.
He asked the priests how long it had been since their ordinations. Father Rosing said his ordination was nearly 46 years; 30 years ago for Father Ausperk and three years ago for Father Klonowski. Deacon Green was ordained in 2002.
“We celebrate the gift of ordination and the beginning of Holy Week and I get to learn about your school today,” the bishop said.
As he usually does, he asked the students to share what makes Holy Family a special school. The students’ answers included the teachers, parents, priests, learning about Christ, playing with friends, having a church nearby, a cross in every room, the principal and cheese pizza for lunch.
Bishop Perez told the students their teachers are a special breed because they easily could make more money at another school but they chose to work in a school with Christ at its center. And he reminded them that learning about their faith is what sets Holy Family School apart.
“You can learn about science, math and reading at any school but you learn about your faith in a Catholic school,” he added.
The bishop also spent a few minutes talking about the symbolism of the cross. He told the students that he was wearing three crosses – one under his shirt, his pectoral cross and the cross over his chasuble. He pointed out that each pew in the church had a cross on the end and there were many other crosses in the church and in the school building.
“The cross is a central part of Holy Week,” he told the students. “We also remember and celebrate that the cross wasn’t the end of the story – it became a symbol of life. Remember to look at the cross as sign of God’s powerful, transforming love for you.”
Bishop Perez said in Jesus’ time, crucifixion – death on the cross – was the worst way to die. He said no one at that time would ever wear a cross as jewelry. He compared it to wearing a small electric chair on a chain. “No one would ever do that,” he said.
“Remember the symbolism of the cross as we observe Holy Week,” he told the students.
After Mass, the bishop greeted each student and then he headed over to the school for a brief tour. He also ate lunch with three eighth-graders, Sharon Fournier, Holy Family principal, Father Rosing and Father Klonowski.
Holy Family achieved National Blue Ribbon School status in 2012.