Math is important, but Christ is everything, archbishop says at Catholic Schools Week Mass

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron poses with students and teachers after the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass on Jan. 30 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Each year, the Mass gathers schools from across the Archdiocese of Detroit for a celebration of what makes Catholic education unique. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Students called to be a ‘dwelling place for Christ in the world,’ Archbishop Vigneron says during all-schools Mass at cathedral

DETROIT — What makes Catholic schools special? 

Before a packed Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament during the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass on Jan. 30, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron told students their celebration of the annual observance is different than an ordinary school assembly.

“We’re here to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, but we’re doing it a very particular way,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “You could have stayed in your schools to do a commemoration of the week in the auditorium or the gymnasium. But we’re Catholics; we do things in a little funny way.”

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The archbishop addressed students from all six counties of the Archdiocese of Detroit who made the annual visit to the cathedral, saying the Mass itself is what makes Catholic schools unique. 

“Unlike, say Adlai Stevenson High School or John Kennedy Elementary School down the road, we have a particular way of thinking about education,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “And I want us to think about what we are about to do today, so we can all understand and do it better.”

Students from Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Detroit pray during the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Jan. 30.

Drawing from the first reading from 2 Samuel, Archbishop Vigneron spoke about how God made King David a solemn promise that his line would last forever, a promise that was fulfilled when the angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive the Son of God.

Today's Mass, the archbishop said, is a manifestation of how God continues to fulfill his promise to David even today.

“And that goes perhaps toward understanding why Catholic education is so important. Because like Stevenson High School or Kennedy Elementary, you learn mathematics, science, chemistry and trigonometry,” Archbishop Vigneron told students. “But we learn all of these things so we can be part of the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re here today.”

This Catholic Schools Week Mass was the first since the archdiocese launched its “Unleashing Our Catholic Schools” strategic vision, a bold plan to remake the archdiocese's schools in light of the local Church's Unleash the Gospel movement.

Kevin Kijewski, superintendent of Catholic schools, welcomed students, teachers and staff to the Mass.

A student from Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Riverview receives Communion during the Catholic Schools Week Mass. Every student is “made by God to be a particular part of his people, to be a particular element, a particular tone in the dwelling place of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Vigneron said.

“The Archdiocese of Detroit takes the stewardship of our Catholic schools, and the families we serve, as a sacred honor,” Kijewski said, writing in the worship aid for the Mass. “In the coming months and years, I look forward to our continued work in achieving that vision so that we will become the very best Catholic school system in the country.”

Part of the vision of Catholic schools is imprinting on every student their identity as a son of daughter of God, Archbishop Vigneron said — an identity that's reconfirmed at every Mass.

“Each of you was made by God to be a particular part of his people, to be a particular element, a particular tone in the dwelling place of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “When you say, ‘Lord, I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but say the word, and my soul will be healed,’ this is the time for all of us to make our hope in the promise of the return of God, and that we will do everything we can to be a worthy dwelling place of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop Vigneron asked students to reflect on God’s promise during the consecration, taking all of their joys, triumphs, sorrows and setbacks and offering them to the Lord.

“(During the elevation of the Eucharist), I will show God the Father the Body and Blood of Jesus, the great sacrament of Jesus’ love for His Father, and I will give you a moment to think about either what’s been good at school and what you are proud of or what you have found difficult in your heart, to spiritually add those to the chalice,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “In my role as priest, I'll lift them up, to offer them to God the Father on your part, of keeping your oath to be the dwelling place of God in the world.”