Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, blesses students as he leaves the altar after Mass at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Bishop: Mass is the closest we can get
to Jesus on Earth
Fifth-graders at the School of the Madeleine enthusiastically showed their Catholic Schools Week visitor something they made for him.
They huddled around a computer monitor in their Berkeley classroom. On the screen appeared a virtual cathedral, "built" for Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, using the school's Minecraft program that can only be accessed by its community.
The bishop asked questions as they described the cathedral. But then the students had something else to show him.
They "built" a ship, which they named the USS Barber.
You could say the bishop, who also serves as a chaplain in the U.S. Naval Reserve, was pleased.
He had also stopped to take a photo of a bulletin board outside the main office, upon which were posted student-written descriptions of service projects the students had undertaken. Among them was a project to assist Wounded Warriors.
In a visit with kindergarteners, he showed them his ring, one of the symbols of his office. He fielded questions from eighth-graders, including what languages he speaks and what it's like to meet Pope Francis. ("I was nervous," he said. "Holy Father, like you I am a Jesuit,' he said. "So he starts teasing, me, "You have that virus, too.")
The bishop would use the analogy of the ship during his homily later in the morning in the church, where students attended in faith families for the Mass celebrated in memory of St. John Bosco.
"Mass is the closest we can come on Earth to be with Jesus," the bishop told the students.
He told them that in St. John Bosco's time, it was not unusual to see homeless children. But the saint found homes for these children and educated them.
"If you're doing God's work, God will protect you. You have nothing to fear."
One way to be protected, he said, is "you get on the ship of the church."
"Stay on the ship of the church," he advised. "Never leave it. You'll be OK."
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