Bishop Kopacz delivers mass at St. Aloysius

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, January 31, 2019

Catholic Schools do more than just educate young people, Bishop Joseph Kopacz said. They help fulfill dreams.

Speaking to Vicksburg Catholic Schools students Thursday at a mass observing Catholic Schools Week, Kopacz drew on an address by Pope Francis and the experiences of St. John Bosco, who worked with young people in Italy during the Industrial Revolution, to explain how a Catholic education helps young people meet their dreams.

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Taking a passage from Pope Francis’ address at the World Youth Day program in Panama, Kopacz said the dream first of all is faith, “And the greatest dream for any of us, young or older, is the dream of Jesus within our hearts and souls and minds.

“Out of that dream comes the light that God calls us to.”

But, he said, Pope Francis added that without education, it’s difficult to dream.

“Think about it,” he said. “When you’re in class, you’re learning. As the gospel said, ‘Let those who have ears to hear, hear.’

“You hear a lot of things, and what’s very special is some of those things and teachings that we’re hearing lead into what we want to be — our dream. Being here at Vicksburg Catholic, we’re seeing God’s dream for each of us together with our dreams — that makes our lives very special.”

St. John Bosco, Kopacz said, lived in a time when there was upheaval in society because people were going from farms to the cities.

“Families were being pulled apart, and he looked at a lot of young people who were just wandering around; they didn’t have direction.

“He started to form schools and he brought them together to form a religious community, because he knew if these young people were not educated, they could not dream. They were really drifting in life.”

He referred to Pope Francis’ comments about the importance of family and community in a young person’s life, adding, “To be here at Vicksburg Catholic, your families are so very special; their love for you, their desire, their dreams for you.

“Be all that you can be, be all that God wants you to be. That’s a wonderful dream, and this school community embraces that and truly loves that.

“We can really appreciate what St. John Bosco was able to do, because a lot of these young people didn’t have parents at that time, and yet he was able to go into that world and direct so many young people to something more than they otherwise would have.”

He used Pope Francis’ analogy used comparing the Panama Canal and God’s love.

“The Panama Canal is a shortcut,” he said. “It cuts off 13,000 miles from going around south America and allows large ships to avoid that.

“Like the canal, so we are here to know that the love of God flows into our lives just the same, and we take that love and go back to the whole world — 155 countries —and bring that love of Jesus.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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