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Bishop Fisher Education

Bishop Fisher celebrates a back to school Mass at St. Francis High School

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher welcomes the students of St. Francis High School as he begins Mass in the school auditorium. The bishop, pictured with President/Principal Father Michael Sajda, OFM Conv., and Father Matt Foley, OFM Conv., told the students they can find God’s truth in each of their classes.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher celebrated morning Mass at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs on Sept. 9. As part of his “Back to School” visits, Bishop Fisher made his way to the Franciscan school that overlooks Lake Erie.

Celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a tradition among academic institutions dating to 1548 in which the community gathers to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation and to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the coming year, Bishop Fisher looked at St. John Paul II, who told Christians to “build a civilization of love.”

The bishop sees the search for truth and the dignity of the human person as two cornerstones of St. John Paul’s teachings.

“Speak the truth and search for it. And where do we find that? We find that in a relationship with our God, with our Lord, Jesus Christ,” he said.  

Father Michael Sajda, OFM Conv., shows Bishop Michael W. Fisher around St. Francis High School. the bishop celebrated Mass for the students at the Athol Springs school. (Photos by Patrick J. Buechi)

Reflecting on the dignity of the human person, the bishop pointed out that the birth of Jesus, in which God takes human form, blesses our humanity.

“Seeking the truth and knowing our dignity I think is sometimes a lifetime search and struggle in our lives. Part of this, for each one of us, is to make this search for truth and our understanding of our dignity as a gift and sacred in God’s eyes,” Bishop Fisher continued. “Part of that is taking our part in this civilization of love. I think that’s what going to school is all about. In each one of your subjects that you have, whether it’s math or science, certainly religion, puts a light on all of that. But are we seeking the truth in all of our subjects? Do we see our dignity as human beings in each of these subjects.”

The bishop explained that any subject, even math and social studies can be used in the search for truth. Numbers give us order, but can also be used to manipulate things or justify an argument. Historians can look at the past and only tell part of the story that benefits their beliefs.

“We have to look for the truth as we are studying history. So, each of the subjects that you have is an opportunity for you to search for that truth and see where do I, as a human being, fall into here. How do I use this to become a better person? How do I grow into my faith and my relationship with God? through our studies. Art, music. All of these are wonderful opportunities for you to take part in building this civilization of love.”

In closing, the bishop said, “May God bless you this year as you seek the truth and know your dignity as a child of God.”

St. Francis opened the year with 100 percent in-class learning, much to the happiness of the students. The school had to use online learning for a period around Thanksgiving last year due to the Covid pandemic.

“It’s definitely better than being online. Unfortunately, we have to wear the masks because it’s the Erie County mandate. But, other than that it feels pretty normal,” said Cameron Stana, a junior.

He’s looking forward to the new school year, saying St. Francis really pushes the students to make them into a better people.

“Coming in freshman year, I was really timid,” he said. “I didn’t really like to participate in anything. Just being here, the experiences that I had, really have formed me into a better person and gave me the courage to do stuff like speak in front of the whole school. It’s been really great.”

Jude Strittmatter calls his experience at the school, “pretty great.”

“I was originally home schooled, so coming in I didn’t have a lot of friends. But very quickly, I was able to form a group of friends, really form a brotherhood here. It’s a really great culture. So, I’m glad to be here. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

The two helped the bishop carry his vestments to his waiting car. That’s the way it is at St. Francis. If you see a need, you step in to help out.

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