Elementary Schools Information Guide
During his homily, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, told the students at Wood Rose Academy in Concord that he was about their age when he felt the call to become a priest.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Wood Rose Academy gets a first-ever visit
from the bishop of Oakland
It was a big day for what some people call "the little school that could."
Almost 20 years after its founding, Wood Rose Academy was receiving a special visitor: the Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, bishop of Oakland. The warm morning of Sept. 4 marked the first time any of the five bishops of Oakland had visited the Concord campus of the independent Catholic school.
Kindergartners through eighth-graders were dressed in their best — including neckties for the young men, blazers for all — and prepared for visits to their classrooms. When the bishop arrived, the students were at recess, and stepped up to offer greetings.
The school offers a traditional education that combines academic excellence with a Catholic virtues-based development program. The class sizes are small: There is one classroom per grade for a student body of 121 students.
A preschool, which opened on the site in 2011, can accommodate 56 students a day. In addition to offering financial stability, it can provide a steady stream of kindergartners in the years to come.
Students were joined at Mass later in the morning by many parents and younger siblings. Among the parents was Mary Davis, president of the parent association, who has a son and daughter at Wood Rose Academy.
She said the decision to send their children to the school was based on "how unique it is, its small size and its atmosphere."
"The kids are happy to be there," she said.
"The welcoming environment drew us there and has kept us there," she said.
You probably don't get to see a bishop very often, Bishop Barber told them and invited them to ask questions. The students' questions were thoughtful. In some classrooms students read questions they had prepared; in others, the bishop was invited to choose them from a basket.
Among the first questions, in a classroom where kindergartners and first-graders awaited his visit, the bishop was asked: How can God be three in one?
He drew a clover on the whiteboard, and began his answer.
(For additional questions the students asked the bishop, see the story on Page 10.)
The school is located on the grounds of a former horse property. Mass was celebrated in the former equestrian arena. With a metal roof above, chairs were placed on the asphalt ground. Beneath each metal chair was a small piece of carpet. Students would kneel on these carpet squares during Mass.
Concelebrants were the school's chaplain, Father Leonardo Agustina; Father Abraham Johnson, parochial administrator of nearby St. Agnes Church; and Father Andrew Johnson of St. Thomas More Church in San Francisco. Father Johnson, who became a priest after the death of his wife, is the grandfather of four students at Wood Rose Academy. He is also a former student of Bishop Barber, when the bishop taught at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park.
"I believe that sitting here today are young men and young women who I believe Christ will call to become a priest, or a brother or a sister, or to become a nun," the bishop told the students in his homily.
"I knew when I was your age in school, I felt the call from God to become a priest. I was young, but when I looked up at the altar and saw the priest saying Mass, I thought, Maybe someday I could do that. It never went away. I thought about being a fireman, I thought about being a fighter pilot but those came and went. One thing stayed: Maybe I should be a priest."
He began by talking to the priests in his parish, he told them.
"The same thing with you girls: The church needs nuns that wear the robes and veils. Nuns teach in schools, work in hospitals as nurses, become missionaries and go to Africa and places overseas where they help people, or they live in monasteries and pray for people so the girls as well as the boys, God could be calling."
He asked them: "If God calls you, what would you say?
Looking out among the children, he added, "You don't have to answer right now."
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