Bishop to students: let your light shine!

Lindsay Steele
Bishop Thomas Zinkula celebrates Mass at Assumption High School in Davenport on March 21. About 1,700 students, faculty and administrators from Catholic schools in Scott County gathered for the Mass.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Bishop Thomas Zinkula celebrated Mass with about 1,700 Catholic school students and faculty March 21 at Assumption High School in Davenport.

Originally, the Mass was scheduled to take place during Catholic Schools Week on Jan. 31. However, schools were closed most of that week due to severe winter weather. Administrators were adamant about rescheduling the Mass. “We feel this celebration is important to maintain,” said Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of schools. Assumption High School Principal Bridget Murphy said, “We wanted to make it a priority to do this before the end of the year, especially since the bishop was coming.”

Bishop Zinkula arrived early and mingled with some of the students gathered in the Assumption High School gymnasium. Catholic schools in Scott County are St. Paul the Apostle, All Saints, John F. Kennedy and Assumption in Davenport and Lourdes in Bettendorf. Students from these schools represent about half of all Catholic school students in the Diocese of Davenport, Morrison said. It was Bishop Zinkula’s first time celebrating the annual Scott County Catholic Schools Week Mass since his installation as Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport in 2017.
At the beginning of Mass, Bishop Zinkula joked about the postponement, telling the students that he came to school Jan. 31 but no one else showed up. “I was waiting for you!” he quipped. The students and faculty responded with laughter.

During his homily, Bishop Zinkula asked for “a group of friends” to volunteer to come to the sanctuary. He chose a group of four Assumption choir students to help him demonstrate the message that Christians should not hide their light under a bushel basket but share that light with others. He designated volunteer Caroline Sieren as “our light,” and covered her in a red blanket. “Can you breathe under there?” he asked. “Yeah,” she responded with a giggle. Bishop Zinkula noted that he used a blanket instead of a bushel basket because “that would be weird. But this is weird anyway,” he said jokingly.

He asked Caroline’s friends to describe some of her gifts. They said she has a good voice, a kind personality and a desire to help others. Bishop Zinkula said that pointing out the gifts of those around us helps their light to shine brighter. “It’s important to recognize them. … Name the gifts, recognize the gifts, be humble about them and thank God.”

It’s important for Christians to thank God for their gifts by loving and serving others with those gifts. “God gave us these gifts. We’re grateful, we develop them, we share them…. that’s what God wants us to do. And if we can do that in our lives, that’s a good life,” he said. “Don’t put your gifts under a blanket, but share them with others.”

He said Catholic schools are a great place for students to develop their gifts — spiritual gifts as well as academic gifts.

Several Scott County priests concelebrated the Mass: Father Rich Adam, pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport; Father Tony Herold, vicar general and pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport; Father Jake Greiner, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport; Father Jim Vrba, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf; and Father Joseph Sia, diocesan vocation director and sacramental minister at St. Mary Parish in Davenport. Students from Scott County Catholic Schools served in various roles, such as altar servers, cantors and gift bearers.

The Assumption High School choir led the congregation in the singing of the Vision 20/20 song, “Renew Our Hearts,” at the start of Mass. Singers from elementary schools helped with worship as well. The Assumption High School band played a hymn after Communion.

Murphy said of the Mass, “It’s a great opportunity for us to come together and celebrate why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

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