A parent of a student at St. Francis of Assisi School in Concord captured this image of Eighth-Grade Day at the Cathedral of Christ the Light from a neighboring Oakland office building.
Students were participating in an icebreaker activity during the morning events.
Bishop challenges schoolchildren to put
their words into actions
"Will you participate in the pope's call for the Year of Mercy?"
With those dozen words, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, invited more than 1,200 eighth-graders from 33 diocesan elementary schools to take part in activities over the next year to put their words into actions.
He invited them, too, to lead their younger classmates in this work. "They look up to you," he said
"I'd like to challenge every eighth-grade class to do a project of a spiritual or corporal work of mercy," the bishop said. "I'll tell everyone about it in the Catholic newspaper. Then we'll write and tell the pope."
Among his suggestions: "Collect food for the hungry, visit lonely people, sing for them, make cards, pray for world peace."
Pope Francis has declared this upcoming year one of spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the bishop said. "He invites us to help people carry their cross. That's what you and I are called to do."
In doing this work, he told the students, "You will be true friends and disciples of Jesus."
An annual event at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, Eighth-Grade Day brings together students for a speaker — this year it was Catholic motivational speaker and musician Paul J. Kim — followed by Mass.
The bishop shared with them some of his memorable moments from Pope Francis' U.S. visit, which had concluded just three days before the cathedral event. He mentioned a deaf choir that sang using sign language in Philadelphia, and the pope's stop to bless a boy in a wheelchair upon his arrival in Philadelphia.
The bishop shared with them, too, the story of Danny McHale, a teenage altar server at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, who, the bishop said, "won't let being in a wheelchair stop him from living his life and serving God."
At the end of the day, Bishop Barber posed for photos with each school group; a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis joined them.
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