Every Ash Wednesday I go to St John the Baptist Diocesan High School for prayer services and distribution of ashes for the student body. It also gives me a chance to spend time with some of the students which I always enjoy. This year I met informally with a dozen students to talk about what their years at SJB meant to them and how the school has affected their lives. The conversation was extraordinary. One told me how she overcame her shyness in an atmosphere that made her welcome and encouraged her to use her musical talent. Another has been a class leader all four years and is ready now to bring the fruit of his labors into college. Another had her life changed and her vision expanded by her trip with classmates to Peru.Several had become visitors at nursing homes and were involved with Catholic Charities in outreach and an annual get-together with adults with special needs. All spoke about their sense of the teachers as caring and attentive even while they were being challenged to grow intellectually and spiritually.
At the prayer service which they had developed with the chaplain, Father Mike Holzman, their prayers touched me deeply especially when they prayed for our Holy Father Pope Benedict expressing their gratitude for his example and pastoral leadership. Today when I write to the Holy Father I am going to share with him my experience at this wonderful school and associate all of us in our diocese with their sentiments of love and esteem for our holy and humble, kind and courageous Spiritual Father.