Students at St. Peter Claver Catholic School in Macon, Georgia, didn’t have to wonder what it would be like to worship with the bishop on a special religious day – say, Ash Wednesday. That’s because The Most Reverend Bishop Stephen D. Parkes, of the Diocese of Savannah, made an Ash Wednesday visit to St. Peter Claver School, where he celebrated Mass, distributed ashes, and even spent time answering the questions of inquisitive first-graders about his mitre and staff.
Casey Cole, OFM, school chaplain who lives at the nearby sister parish friary of Holy Spirit Church, was the co-celebrant and homilist of the Mass. St. Peter Claver is the parish school of St. Peter Claver Church, where William McIntyre, OFM, is pastor, and Rodolfo Ramon Cabrera, OFM, and Steve Pavignano, OFM, are parochial vicars.
The students were thrilled to have the opportunity to worship with the bishop, and they were attentive to every word of Fr. Casey’s inspiring – and funny – homily on the importance of spiritual growth during the Lenten season, according to Regina Sweeney, the school’s director of development.
At the conclusion of the Mass, principal Sr. Cheryl Ann Hillig, DC, presented Bishop Parkes with a Book of Gratitude that the school had been compiling for several weeks. The book contained letters to the bishop from students, staff, volunteers, parents, donors and alumni telling him how much their educational experiences at St. Peter Claver meant to them.
The bishop spent time answering the student’s questions after the Mass. “They wanted to know what he did as bishop. He spoke about his responsibilities and the work he does for the Diocese of Savannah – things such as providing guidance and support to the priests and parishes in the diocese, promoting evangelization and outreach, and fostering the spiritual growth of the faithful,” said Sweeney. “When some first-graders wanted to know about his mitre and staff, he explained all the things that a bishop wears. They also wanted to know how tall he was. It was a lovely experience.”
St. Peter Claver is a vibrant and diverse school dedicated to providing a high-quality Catholic education to students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school is known for its 120-year history of strong commitment to academic excellence, faith formation, and service to others.