Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Second-graders through 12th-graders from Scott County Catholic schools gathered in the Assumption High School gym April 27 to celebrate Mass with Bishop Thomas Zinkula as presider and five priests as concelebrants. “This is the first gathering together as a Scott County Catholic schools family since the start of the pandemic to celebrate our faith,” the bishop said. His concelebrants were Father Paul Appel, Father Bruce DeRammelaere, Father Jacob Greiner, Father John Lamansky and Father Andrew Rauenbuehler.
Typically, Scott County Catholic schools celebrate the annual Mass during Catholic Schools Week in January, said Assumption President Andy Craig, but high COVID-19 numbers at that time led to a postponement. The morning of the rescheduled Mass, about a dozen yellow school buses pulled up outside the Assumption gym with students from All Saints, John F. Kennedy and St. Paul the Apostle schools in Davenport and Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf. They joined the high school students inside.
Assumption Principal Bridget Murphy thanked all the teachers and administrators for working out the logistics to bring the students together. “It’s a big deal.” She said the gathering might be seen as an inconvenience to some, but “we don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to celebrate the reason we come together,” to celebrate Christ and the Eucharist.
Reflecting on John’s Gospel, proclaimed by Father DeRammelaere, Bishop Zinkula said, “The light of the world was crucified and laid in a dark tomb. But the darkness could not contain him.”
He told a story from childhood, when he was in first grade and part of a family that would grow to nine children. On occasion, he had to get dressed in the dark, which included choosing from a pair of black shoes or brown shoes. One day, while riding the bus, one of his sisters pointed out that he had on one brown and one black shoe.
“I was traumatized. I was a shy kid. My sister Sandy is going to tell everyone,” he thought to himself. He could hide the situation or bring attention to it and live with the reaction. “Nowadays it’s cool to have two different socks,” he joked. He chose to hide the situation and avoid people the best he could that day. I “kept the thing with my shoes in the dark. It wasn’t sinful to do that, but would have been better to bring it into the light.”
Returning to the Scriptures, he asked the students, “Who was the light?” One responded, “Jesus.” “And what was the darkness?” the bishop asked. “Sin,” another student responded. With those correct responses stated, Bishop Zinkula said, Christians are called to let Jesus out of the tomb and “step out into the light of day. To let the power of new life work through us.”
Bishop Zinkula asked altar server Beau Stevens to hold the bishop’s cell phone with the flashlight turned on. At times, “We put the light into our pockets” due to sin and temptation. “We don’t want to see clearly. The sacrament of reconciliation brings light out of the pocket. The light of the risen Christ frees us from our sin and guilt,” the bishop said.
When people give in to peer pressure they “put the light in their pocket and follow the crowd. Instead, we should pray, call upon the light of Christ and gifts of the Holy Spirit of wisdom and courage.” People of all ages should share their time, talent and treasure, Bishop Zinkula said. If not, they put the light in their pocket and hide their gifts. They do not share the Catholic faith or light of Christ with others because they are afraid of what others may think about them. “We share our faith not only in words, but also in our actions and by how we live our lives.” He concluded his homily reading a prayer by Cardinal John Henry Newman, “Radiate in Christ.”
As Mass concluded, Bishop Zinkula recognized students who have or will be making their first Communion during what he described as first Communion season. “Would those who received their first Communion last weekend please stand?” A handful of youths stood. He asked those who will received their first Communion in the next few weeks to stand. The rest of the second- graders stood. The crowd applauded.
Mass closed with the song “Trading My Sorrows” during which students clapped, danced and sang to the music led by the Assumption choir.