“Only God knows what God has in store for you,” Bishop Nelson Perez told the students, faculty and staff of St. Bernadette School in Westlake.
They gathered along with some parents and parishioners on Aug. 26 in St. Bernadette Church for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, which traditionally opens their school year. Bishop Perez was the celebrant. Concelebrants were Father Phil Racco, St. Bernadette pastor, and Father Kevin Fox, the parish’s parochial vicar.
The bishop pointed out Frank O’Linn, secretary for education and superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, noting that he was a graduate of St. Bernadette School. “He sat among you a few years ago. Little did he know the Lord would call him to oversee all education for the diocese,” the bishop said.
“Listen, learn and be grateful,” Bishop Perez told the congregation. “Everything you have is a gift from God.”
He asked the students how many of them could still wear their clothes from a year or two ago. “You are growing and that growth is steady. You may not realize it because you don’t think you look any different. Even your parents may not realize it, but someone who doesn’t see you every day will notice it. It’s the same with your mind,” Bishop Perez said.
He also asked the students what they study in school. Math, science and reading were among the answers. “You also learn about God. That is the one unique aspect of this school. What you learn about Christ you will carry in your heart for the rest of your life,” he added.
Bishop Perez said there are people starting new roles this year at St. Bernadette’s, from new students and teachers to a new principal, Maureen Goodwin.
“And you have a new priest,” he said, gesturing to Father Fox. “I had the pleasure of ordaining him as a deacon last year and as a priest on May 18. So he’s been a priest for three months, I’ve been a priest for 30 years and Father Phil has been a priest for 100 years,” the bishop said, laughing.
He told the students that their parents and teachers walk with them. “Catholic school teachers stand in front of you and your principal is charged with guiding them and you. Today, at this Mass of the Holy Spirit, we are asking God to teach, guide and form you so that the dream God has for you will come to fruition,” he said.
After Mass, the bishop greeted students, teachers, parents and parishioners before taking a brief tour of the school building.
Goodwin said there are about 425 students in preschool through eighth grade at St. Bernadette School.
The school, which is now educating its third generation of parish families, opened in September 1952 with five classrooms. Currently, there are two classrooms for each grade – K-8 -- plus the preschool program. The building is outfitted with the latest technology. It has a renovated science lab, a modern gym, state-of-the-art computer room, music room media center, event hall and more.
Visit stbern.net for more information.