Nearly 400 students from most of Vermont’s Catholic schools and Vermont Catholic Homeschoolers attended the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph Jan. 31.

“This is a day we can bring our students together to celebrate and receive an important message,” said David Young, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington. “It’s a wonderful opportunity we don’t often have, so we relish this opportunity.”

The message Msgr. John McDermott, administrator of the diocese, gave to the students and their 38 faculty and staff chaperones, was that despite all the changes they encounter in life, Jesus is the constant. “One of our greatest challenges,” he said, “is how we navigate change.”

But the constant presence among change is Jesus Christ: “We are children of God, redeemed by Christ … and called to live in a relationship with Him that is meant to go through our entire life not just in this world but through eternity.”

It’s a message that is taught every day in Catholic schools, a message that Jesus is ever present, and “we can celebrate and rejoice in that and hold onto that because Christ is the center of our lives,” Msgr. McDermott said. “The presence of Jesus Christ always makes a Catholic school a Catholic school.”

Ten priests and a deacon joined Msgr. McDermott in the sanctuary during the Mass.

“I’m honored to be able to represent my school” at the Catholic Schools Week Mass, said Sophia Cavalieri, a freshman at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, a school she likes because “it’s small, and we are all friends … and we have religion class and the teaching is very good.”

Patty Lawson, a homeschooling mother with Vermont Catholic Homeschoolers, said it was an honor that the group was acknowledged and formally included in the Mass. “Many dioceses don’t recognize Catholic homeschooling as an important part of Catholic education. It’s very exciting that this diocese does,” she said.

Joanne Beloin, principal of St. Paul School in Barton, brought a group of students to Burlington the day before the Catholic Schools Week Mass. They visited the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont and bowled at St. Mark Parish Center, both in Burlington, before heading to St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski for socializing and an overnight stay. This was the second year the Winooski school hosted the Barton school students. “It’s an opportunity to collaborate and create unity,” Beloin said.

At the end of the Catholic Schools Week Mass, Msgr. McDermott offered a special blessing for teachers and students.


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