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Saint John Paul the Great students a ‘symbol of hope and joy’ to Bishop Loverde

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Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School welcomed Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and his secretary, Father Robert J. Wagner, to celebrate Mass Sept. 14. A tradition at the start of each academic year, this year’s Bishop’s Mass proved particularly significant because it marked what will most likely be Bishop Loverde’s final one as he readies for retirement.

Noting that John Paul the Great was founded under his leadership, Bishop Loverde expressed that he feels a special connection to the school. He reminisced about the contributions made by many people over the years, making it clear he “did not build it alone.”

As part of the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, the Options students presented the gifts for consecration to the bishop. Later, the religion teachers came forward to profess publicly their faith and their commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Before Bishop Loverde drew the celebration to a close and dismissed students back to class, he left them with a parting gift: a day off from school to be given at the discretion of the principal, Dominican Sister Mary Veronica Keller.

After Mass, Bishop Loverde took time to meet with students, and pose for a photo with senior Mary Grace Coltharp who was awarded the Catholic Business Network’s YES Award for outstanding service.

When reflecting on his favorite part of working with students in Catholic high schools, Bishop Loverde said, “Potential. I can see the potential of all the youth in these schools. They are a symbol of hope and joy for me.” Bishop Loverde went on to explain his fears and aspirations for the young adults of today, “I am worried that they will be so immersed in culture that they will forget the fundamentals our church is built upon. I wish for them to study the conflicts that are so prominent in the modern world so that they can be strong enough to stand up for their beliefs.”

Inspired by Bishop Loverde’s advice as the 2016-17 academic year gets underway, the community will strive to fulfill its mission to provide the spiritual support and academic nourishment necessary for all students to fully realize the life to which God is calling them.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016