On Monday, August 10, I presided and preached at the opening school Mass for our elementary school teachers. Here is my homily:
This is a special day for all of you, Catholic school teachers, to gather in prayer. Today, you pray for each other and for the students whom parents have wisely entrusted to your care and teaching. We welcome especially those who will be teaching in our Catholic schools for the first time this year. May your teaching be fruitful and rewarding.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon in the early Church, who died a martyr’s death in 258 A.D. St. Lawrence was well known for his noble task of being a steward of the funds of the Church to be distributed to those who were very poor. He was the alms-giver. Legend has it that once the Emperor called him and said that he would not persecute the Church if St. Lawrence would share with him the treasures of the Church. St. Lawrence paused and then asked if he might have two days to gather the treasures.
After the emperor agreed, the holy deacon returned to the Emperor accompanied by all the poor people of Rome – those with handicaps and deformities, those without work or a home, those with leprosy and all sorts of ailments, the old and the young, the frail and the forgotten. Pointing to them, St. Lawrence said; “Your highness, here are the treasures of the Church!” He was echoing the very words of Jesus, who pointing to the forgotten of His day, said, “Blessed are the poor…” and again, “He who would welcome a child in My name, welcomes Me!”
Throughout the Archdiocese, we perk up our ears so that we might hear these words afresh. In fact, it is the child in need who is the focus of all the planning that has been done over the last year to ensure that our Catholic schools remain accessible and affordable for all. You recall that all 111 of our parishes, which stretch from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border, came together in support of a special annual assessment to help the families of these children who yearn for a Catholic school education. I salute the generosity that has been expressed. To date, more than $5 million dollars will be provided from all the sources we could find to assist these families. Parishes, even those without a Catholic school, agreed that they would help because they saw the child in need and responded generously. (For more on these efforts, go here.)