“Why did you become a priest?” asked the sixth-grade boy.
“When I was your age, I liked the priests in my parish and the way they cared for people,” responded the bishop. “I wanted to do that. I wanted to bring people closer to Jesus.”
As he moved from classroom to classroom at Holy Cross School in South Portland, Bishop Robert P. Deeley fielded questions ranging from his favorite Christmas carols (“Silent Night” and “O Holy Night”) to what he would have been if he wasn’t a priest (a lawyer). Students excitedly welcomed the bishop into their worlds on Wednesday, December 13, as he spent the morning answering their questions while learning about what they are up to as well.
“And the keyboard detaches like this,” a fourth grader demonstrated for the bishop as he held up his new iPad.
“Maybe Santa will bring me one like this!” the bishop told the student.
At Holy Cross, students in grades five through eight have new MacBook airs and all second, third, and fourth graders are issued iPads with detachable keyboards. Pre-kindergarteners, kindergartners, and first graders each have an individual iPad as well.
“The Holy Cross curriculum strives to integrate technology into the everyday classroom on a daily basis,” said Principal Christine L’Abbé.
Modern technology was employed during the school’s massive Cultural Fair on November 16 as each grade was assigned a country or culture to study in depth, reflecting places that some of the students and school families hail from.
Second graders showed the bishop their Ethiopian animals video created with ChatterPix, a program that allowed the students to take pictures of their original drawings and upload them along with their voices to create a moving animation. Students in the third grade showcased their country by welcoming the bishop with "xin chào" which is “hello” in Vietnamese.
The bishop was also treated to traditional school activities during his visit, including a Nativity play presented by the pre-kindergarteners. He also received a handmade book entitled “A Great Day in Kindergarten” from the children who had each made a page featuring something fun they do in school.
“We share with others,” wrote Gabby on her page, which featured a drawing of two smiling students playing together.
In addition, students from several grades presented short Advent-themed plays in the school’s cafeteria. With Christmas approaching, Bishop Deeley reminded the children that in the season of giving, how they receive gifts is also important.
“No matter what gift we get, it’s wonderful because someone is telling you that they love you. They are signs of God’s love for us, so we should always be grateful. So don’t say things like ‘this isn’t what I wanted,’ okay?” the bishop said to the laughing students.
Prior to stopping by classrooms, Bishop Deeley was joined by the entire student body for a morning prayer service at Holy Cross Church, located next to the school.
Accompanying the bishop on his visit were Monsignor Paul Stefanko, pastor of St. John and Holy Cross Parish in South Portland; Suzanne Lafreniere, director of public policy for the diocese; and Jim King, superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools.
Prior to departing, Bishop Deeley had lunch with Holy Cross teachers and staff members.