“Because of the Ursuline tradition at Beaumont (School), you are different from many other schools. You are rooted in Christ, who permeates the atmosphere here. Jesus is our best teacher, who wants us to learn about the good so that we can reject the bad. He gives us hope that if we follow him, we will have an abundant life,” Bishop Edward Malesic told the Beaumont community during his visit to the campus on March 14. His visit included a Mass, concelebrated by Father Tom Fanta, pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Shaker Heights, a tour of the campus and lunch. (See photo gallery above.)
Wendy Hoke, Beaumont president, welcomed the bishop to campus, pointing out he was visiting the oldest Catholic high school in the Diocese of Cleveland and the second-oldest all-girls Catholic secondary school in Greater Cleveland. Beaumont was founded in 1850.
In his homily, the bishop encouraged the students to study hard, get into good colleges and land good jobs. “But more than that, strive to be saints. Yes, we are all meant to be saints. We are meant to live forever with God in heaven,” he said. “And because we have that hope, we want to bring a bit of heaven to our life on earth. We want to make this world a place of more peace and greater justice, a place that resembles the reign of God that we aspire to find someday. We want to be people who love, rather than hate – because that is the model that heaven gives us.”
He reminded the students that they are “blessed to be immersed in the Ursuline tradition.” In fact, the bishop said he had a good friend who was an Ursuline sister and a college professor. Their paths crossed during his time as a campus minister at a college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The bishop described Sister Rosemary Winkeljohann, who was from Cincinnati, as “a great companion, a collaborator in ministry and a sounding board for my ideas. She was bright, very bright, compassionate, opinionated – but in the best way – and faithful.” He also said she was “a bride of Christ, a teacher of minds and a woman of the Church.” Bishop Malesic credited her with teaching him much about Christian life, leadership and community.
He told the students they “have the ability to make all of us better, men and women. Use the gift of your feminine genius,” he said, adding that they also should learn from Jesus how to be faithful, loving, God-fearing, prayerful and open to God’s presence and God’s will.
If God calls them to do something that is scary, the bishop told them not to be afraid. “God will give you everything you need to conquer the world – or at least to follow the call that he has planted in your heart.”
Recalling his recent trip to the diocesan mission in El Salvador, Bishop Malesic said many Ursuline sisters have served on the pastoral staffs at the mission. He also reminded the Beaumont community of their tie to the mission: Sister Dorothy Kazel, OSU, a former teacher and guidance counselor at the school. She was one of four American churchwomen who were murdered in December 1980, early in the Salvadoran civil war. Their only power was their faith in Jesus Christ, the bishop said, noting how they loved the Salvadorans and worked to help the poor families and children as they struggled to claim their rights to economic justice and political freedom.
Sister Kazel is remembered on campus in several locations, including a framed photo in a main hallway and in a photo with the other murdered churchwomen that has a place of honor in the school chapel. “Love is not easy. Sister Dorothy Kazel should inspire us to be our better selves,” the bishop said.
He also reminded the Beaumont community that while the school is great, it exists “to not only train minds but to form souls. Learn to love Jesus. Desire to be one of the disciples of Jesus Come to know him so that you can follow him. Listen to his voice and hear him call each of you by name. He loves you so much and you are here for a reason and a purpose. Then, empowered by faith, go into the world ready for life, leadership and service.”
The bishop urged the students to be generous with their gifts. “To be a blessing, you must give of yourselves,” he said, recalling the love and sacrifice of so many, including St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursuline order, Sister Kazel and her companions.
After Mass, the bishop received a gift bag of Beaumont swag and a prayer bracelet, which he put on.
During the tour, two students, Principal Nick Beyer, Hoke and Michele Bernot, campus minister, directed the bishop through sections of the campus, including the carriage house of the Painter family (who sold their 27-acre estate in Cleveland Heights to the Ursulines in 1942 for Beaumont’s current campus). The former carriage house provides space for the school’s fine arts department, the chapel and more.
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