Last week, local Catholic school students got the surprise of a lifetime.
Over the past few weeks, Sister Mary Louise, religion teacher at Sts. Peter & Paul STEM School has been getting creative and finding different ways to keep her students engaged and help them enjoy distance learning during this quarantine.
After showing the video “Faith and Reason” from Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, she asked her 5th and 6th graders to write down some questions for Bishop Barron in regards to the video, which she would later send to him via email.
“I wanted them not only to learn from what he shared on the video but, perhaps even more importantly, experience a connection with him. It was a risk, since I knew there was a good chance we would not be able to connect. Actually, my hope was really just a written response,” Sister Mary Louise told the Denver Catholic.
A couple of days later, Sister Mary Louise received an email informing her that due to all his responsibilities and lack of time, Bishop Barron would not be able to respond to her student’s questions. She did not want to let her students down, so she waited a few days before passing on the bad news.
In the meantime, a former student, who knew nothing about this, reached out to parishioners and friends of the school to put together a video rosary, interceding for the needs of the school.
It did not take long before God had responded their prayers. A few days after the rosary was completed Sister Mary received a second email from Bishop Barron’s secretary letting her know that he wished to meet her students and set up a Zoom call with them.
“I started to cry when I read the email; I was so touched by his generosity, knowing what this would mean for our children,” she said. “And all I had hoped for was a few typed lines from him! Now we were getting a live video conference!”
On Tuesday, May 19, Bishop Barron met with the students via Zoom. The students logged in from home wearing their formal uniforms for the first time after their last in-person class in March.
“They looked so sharp and their faces glowed! Bishop Barron seemed very relaxed and appeared to genuinely enjoy his time with the children,” Sister Mary Louise said. “The students asked the questions I had selected and then his Excellency opened it to any other questions they had.”
During the video conference, Bishop Barron answered students’ questions about God, prayer, and the relationship between faith and reason. He shared the story of his call to priesthood and gave them advice on how to live well during this pandemic.
“Why do people seek God apart from the Church?” asked one of the students.
“Everybody wants to be happy. What is happiness? … Every single person is seeking God, whether they know it or not… if they’re seeking happiness, which they are, they’re seeking God… Everyone is looking for God,” he replied.
To conclude, Bishop Barron gave the students some advice and words of encouragement during this difficult time. He shared that it has been very difficult for him as well, but he has never lost hope. He suggested to them to take advantage of this time to study our faith, pray, and extend love ton others.
“Find things that bring you out of yourself during this time… Don’t despair. Be patient. Study and pray. And then find an opportunity to love,” he concluded.
“I am so very grateful for Bishop Barron’s generosity,” Sister Mary Louise said. “This was a huge gift for my students! I had wanted to expand their worlds and he did much more than I had hoped for.”