Feb. 6 was a special day for the nearly 600 students at Holy Name High School as the Namers, faculty and staff welcomed Bishop Edward Malesic for his first visit to the Parma Heights campus.
“Good morning, Holy Name. Or, should I say, good morning Namers. I am so happy to be here with you,” he told those gathered for Mass in the school gym. The bishop thanked Shelbrey Blanc, school president and a 2005 Holy Name alumna, and Principal Molly Krist who extended the invitation for the visit, which included Mass, a school tour and lunch and a conversation with a group of students.
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Father Joshua Cochrac, parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Parma and Holy Name’s chaplain, concelebrated the liturgy and accompanied the bishop during his visit. Father Eric Garris, diocesan vocation director, served as the bishop’s master of ceremonies.
“I love that your school has the title Holy Name,” the bishop said. “It is a reminder of whose name is central to everything you do here, the reason why this school was founded and the reason why we continue to support all that you do in this special place of formation – for the Holy Name of Jesus.
There is power in Jesus’ name, the bishop said, adding, “Jesus said that he would do whatever we ask in his name. Never forget to call on the name of Jesus when you need any help or in any prayer you make. Pray always in the name of Jesus. That shouldn’t be too hard for you to remember since it’s the very name of your high school.”
The visit coincided with the feast of St. Paul Miki and his 25 companions, who were martyred in 1597 in Japan. The group included people of all ages – men, women and children, priests and laity. They were tortured and forced to walk about 600 miles across Japan before their deaths because they refused to deny their faith. The Japanese emperor at the time was concerned about the growth of Catholicism and was trying – unsuccessfully – to quash it.
“We sometimes take our faith for granted,” the bishop said, explaining that the martyrs remind is that faith sometimes takes great courage.
“Don’t just say you are Christian. Act like one. Don’t just say you believe in Jesus in the Eucharist, go to Jesus in the Eucharist – especially at Sunday Mass.”
The bishop briefly addressed the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, encouraging them to trust in God because he always walks with them, helps them see their gifts and his plan for them. He also told them to enjoy their time at Holy Name, to enjoy their lives and the lessons of life. “No sin is more powerful than God’s love for you,” he added.
The bishop also told the students to honor Jesus by letting their prayers come from their heart. “Honor Jesus by not just knowing about him, but by knowing him, counting him as a friend, worshiping him as your God and honoring him as your savior.”
And recalling the sacrifice of St. Paul Miki and his fellow martyrs, he told them to stay close to Jesus because he wants to be close to them.
“And remember to call on his holy name often. For when you call for him, he will come to you.”
The bishop, a musician himself, commended the students for their singing during the Mass. He also gifted them with a day off school, noting the date will be determined by school administrators.
After Mass, most students returned to class but about 10 students, Father Cochrac, Father Garris, and a few faculty members took the bishop on a school tour. They stopped in some classrooms, including some science rooms, where he saw the REEF – robotics, electronics, engineering and fabrication – room and he learned about the Anatomage 3D anatomy table, one of only two in the diocese. The bishop, who studied biology in college before answering his call to the priesthood, was intrigued by the anatomy table.
He also enjoyed lunch with a group and asked the students about the sports or activities they participated in, where they might work and what plans they had for the future.
“It was awesome having Bishop Malesic come to Holy Name High School,” said Father Cochrac. “He reminded us that when we define our name, we are reminded that we are God's sons and daughters. This is our identity and helps us to see that if it weren't for the name of Jesus, our school wouldn't exist.
Father Cochrac also said the young people of Holy Name High School are very welcoming. “I believe Bishop Malesic felt welcome today. I am proud of our school community.”