MORE THAN 12,000 GATHER FOR FIRST ALL-SCHOOL MASS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A field for saints served as the venue for more than 12,000 Catholic school students, teachers, staff and volunteers gathering Sept. 22 at CHS Field in St. Paul for the first all-school Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Sponsored by the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Bishop Andrew Cozzens and more than 60 priests celebrated the Mass for fourth- through eighth-grade students from the archdiocese’s 79 Catholic grade schools. The event featured the local band Sonar, which played music before, during and after Mass. A “Mass Cam” and Catholic trivia questions on the stadium’s big screen also entertained students.
Bishop Cozzens, CSCOE board member and the archdiocese’s vicar of education, said the Mass brought Catholic school students together to ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit at the start of the school year.
“We knew it’s just a great opportunity to get our young people together, so they can see they’re part of something that’s so much bigger,” he said. “It allows us to recognize what an incredible gift it is that so many young people are receiving this treasure of a Catholic education.”
Thankful the weather was cooperative, Bishop Cozzens said his favorite part was seeing students’ joy and love for Jesus as they came forward to receive Communion.
“It’s such a great thing to be able to celebrate the gift that we have in our faith and in our Catholic schools as we try to pass that on to the next generation,” he said.
In his homily, Archbishop Hebda told the crowd filling the stadium seats and spread across the field — home of the St. Paul Saints baseball team — that the Holy Spirit is what makes Catholic schools great. In turn, students must ask the Holy Spirit to help them reach greatness.
“I am so happy that we have that opportunity at the beginning of this school year to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Hebda said. “Certainly, on all of you — our wonderful students, certainly on our teachers, certainly on those students who weren’t able to be here this morning, certainly on all those wonderful parishioners who support our Catholic schools.”
Eighth-grader Chip Knap of Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School in St. Paul said the archbishop’s message was especially meaningful to him since he’ll be confirmed this year.
“It was the best Mass I’ve ever been at,” he said.
Students from Catholic schools around the archdiocese as well as seminarians assisted with the Mass. Requiring nine months of planning, 220 buses, and a lot of security, food preparation and communication with the schools, CSCOE President Gail Dorn described the event as “holy” and “healing.”
“We’re just so happy that we’re able to have this community of faith and be able to celebrate with one another,” said Dorn, adding that CSCOE would like to host the Mass of the Holy Spirit annually. “It went so well this year, we would hope that we would have interest from the community to be able to support an event like this every year. We think it would be a terrific tradition for our archdiocese.”
For Kathy McRae, a seventh-grade religion and English teacher at Nativity of Our Lord, the all-school Mass was a visible sign that they’re part of something bigger. McRae has taught for 29 years and said joining the archdiocese’s Catholic schools for Mass was “an incredible experience.”