CHARLESTON — Catholic school principals were honored with a Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist April 29.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who celebrated the liturgy and delivered the homily, welcomed the group and praised them for the vital mission of educating children across the Diocese of Charleston, not just in academics, but in faith.
Most of the 31 principals attended the Mass and luncheon that followed to meet the new bishop and pay respects to departing friends.
In his homily, Bishop Guglielmone spoke of the glory and triumph of Easter, but said, ultimately, the beauty of the season reminds us that there is still a price that must be paid.
“It reminds us that we really can’t simply revel in the glory of the resurrection without recalling the cross,” he said. “Without recalling the message of Jesus when he said, very very clearly, if you will be my disciple, you deny your very self. Take up your cross and follow me. See, that is the way to eternal life. There’s no shortcut. There’s no magic ticket. It is only through the cross that we come to the resurrection.”
Bishop Guglielmone said the disciples found the courage to speak out for their beliefs regardless of the price.
They were the first martyrs, he said, and ultimately gave their lives to spread the word of Christ. He added that most disciples of Jesus are not asked to do that, but have their own difficulties to overcome to follow the true path to salvation.
“What we still teach our young people today is that constant gift, that gift of courage, to be willing to pay the price because of the wonder of God’s love,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
He added that school leaders must show by example how to make their lives more and more a reflection of the kingdom of God. “We try to teach our young people to do that. We try to teach the key values that the Gospel presents,” the bishop said.
He acknowledged that teaching today is different because we live in a world where young people expect instant knowledge at the press of a button. But superficial knowledge is not enough, Bishop Guglielmone said, and that is the challenge of teachers.
He said they must teach students to delve deep in their quest for spiritual formation, rely on one another and support one another in their daily challenge.
“I thank you for your ministry. I thank you for this important work that you’re volunteering in this diocese … ” Bishop Guglielmone said.
At the luncheon, Notre Dame Sister Julia Hutchison, diocesan superintendent of education, thanked Msgr. Joseph R. Roth for his years of service as vicar of education.
Sister Julia and a group of principals led by Sister Roberta Fulton also bid farewell to Sister Roberta Thoen, who has been assigned to take the helm of St. Peter the Apostle School in Savannah, Ga.
Sisters Fulton and Thoen have served in the same congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur for over 40 years.
Sister Thoen founded St. Michael School in Garden City in 1999 and said she will miss the children and parish families that she has formed such a close bond with over the years.
Bishop Guglielmone, who was a teacher himself before entering seminary, said he understands both sides of the classroom, as a parochial school student and an instructor.
The school leaders seemed gratified by the bishop’s words and hopeful for the future.
“The principals were really really pleased with what he had to say and his obvious appreciation for them,” said Sandra Leatherwood, assistant to the superintendent.