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Bishop Fisher Education Features

St. John the Baptist, Kenmore, keeps student ‘Rooted in Christ’


Bishop Michael W. Fisher continued his fall tour of Catholic schools as he stopped by Kenmore to celebrate Mass for the students of St. John the Baptist School.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher demonstrates how his father would prune trees to the students of St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore during a school Mass. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

“It’s wonderful to be here, to be able to bless you, and to pray with you as you begin a wonderful year of learning,” Bishop Fisher said as he met the children, calling it a “great joy” to be with them.

The bishop walked up the center aisle of the church to talk with the kids during his homily. He asked about their favorite classes. Math, science, and reading came out on top. “The more you read, the smarter you get,” the bishop told them.

With science being one of his favorite subjects, the bishop spoke about planting seeds to grow vegetable gardens.

He then told a story of his father’s green thumb for growing trees. After coming home from a school break one year, the future bishop found a pear tree pruned down to the nub.

“I said, ‘Dad, I think you went a little overboard with this tree.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘I did a lot to plant that and the roots are good and strong.’ He had put the right soil in there, and made sure that it was watered. There was fertilizer. That’s what he did with the tree. So, he was confident that underneath the soil, what you couldn’t see, was this strong root system. That’s what really gives a tree its strength.

“He was right. That tree, in the spring, just exploded into lots of branches and the leaves came out, and we had some of the most delicious pears that year.”

St. John’s School has taken “We are Rooted in Christ” as a theme for the school year.

“Rooted in Christ means that we have the strength of Jesus in us,” said Bishop Fisher.

The bishop explained he wore red vestments to the Mass to represent the Holy Spirit.

“We’re celebrating the beginning of the school year asking the Holy Spirit to give you strength. And you might say, in our spiritual life, as we’re rooted in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the sap that comes up into the tree – the sap that gives it strength and helps produce fruit. That’s what we’re called to do. We’re supposed to be rooted in Jesus.”

Praying, reading the Bible and caring for people, he added, work like fertilizer to nurture our roots and help us grow strong in faith.

The school was founded by St. John Neumann in 1836, and has come to be known for its annual themes.

“We have chosen ‘Rooted in Christ’ as our school theme this year, because, as Bishop mentioned in his homily, when you have strong foundations, strong roots, you can do anything with that,” explained Principal Jenny Bainbridge. “We also truly believe that with God and Jesus, anything is possible. We want to give these children the best foundation they can here at St. John’s to move forward with whatever high school they choose and whatever life path they choose to be on.”

Bainbridge was happy the bishop was able to make it so early in the school year, and she liked the way he interacted with the students during Mass.

“It’s great to see that. It’s a fresh start to the school year. It’s always nice to see that engagement and to want them to answer those questions. It’s nice that the bishop engages them and is down the center aisle and just looking for that. And they look to him as the leader of our Catholic Church here in Buffalo.”

Hear Michael Mroziak’s report.