PORTLAND---Students, staff, alumni, and parents gathered together at Cheverus High School on Wednesday morning, December 20, for the school’s annual Advent Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley (additional pictures below).
“Quickly, we are drawing near to Christmas,” the bishop said. “In Christmas, we celebrate the coming into our world of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He comes in the darkest time of the year to be our light. His message to us is a call to live in his light. He shows us a way to live.”
Bishop Deeley advised the students to look at Scripture to find their way, including Wednesday’s Gospel story of the annunciation to Mary.
“The angel Gabriel comes to Mary in the name of God and asks her to be the mother of Jesus, God’s son,” the bishop said to the assembly which filled the Keegan Gymnasium. “She was probably the age of the sophomores here this morning. This historic event, then, takes place in a specific place, to a specific person. This is God’s plan. He doesn’t call us as a group or a team. He calls each one of us personally, and by our own name, because he loves each one of us as a son or daughter. Our faith as Catholics and Christians is a personal relationship with Jesus. As such this beautiful story of Mary reminds us, each of us, that we should be attentive to the way in which God calls us. Just as the angel, God’s messenger, called Mary by name, so too does God call each of us by name.”
As Christmas approaches, the bishop asked the students to “live in the story you hear.”
“As we hear these Gospel accounts of the coming of the Lord Jesus, we are reminded that they do not just describe events long past. Jesus comes now, and he comes to each of us. Listen and hear. Jesus is calling us. May we, like Mary, open ourselves to his voice in our hearts.”
The traditional Advent Mass held additional significance this year as the Cheverus community continues to celebrate its centennial.
“As a Catholic school, Cheverus devotes itself to the whole person, intellect, body and spirit,” the bishop said during his homily. “This is a school that finds itself in the great tradition of Catholic education. It is grounded in faith and striving always for academic excellence. In my mind, these two realities are closely joined. Our faith, grounded in our belief that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, calls us to become what God has called us to be. The truth of that, though lived out in the community of learning and formation for life which is Cheverus, is recreated in each one of you. The purpose of the school is to form each of you for life.”
During the Mass, the bishop also asked Fr. Robert Pecoraro, S.J., who has served as the president of Cheverus since July, to honor another tradition associated with bishops’ visits to the school.
“Would you please see to it that these hard-working, hard-studying students get an additional day off sometime in the second half of the year?” asked the bishop before the students burst into loud applause.