Visiting every Catholic school in the Diocese of Cleveland, including all 20 high schools, is a goal of Bishop Edward Malesic. Now that the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down, he’s taking every opportunity to get to know the schools, their students, teachers and staff.
Walsh Jesus High School in Cuyahoga Falls hosted the Bishop on April 6 as he celebrated Mass, was guided through the school by student tour guides, and enjoyed conversation over lunch with another group of students. The school president, Karl Ertle, greeted and welcomed the bishop. (See photo gallery above.)
While touring the school after Mass, the Bishop stopped by a second-grade ecclesiology class where he shared some thoughts on faith and spoke briefly about Eastern Rite religions with the students. He also visited students at the learning center and another religion class and had the chance to see some of the school’s sports and learning facilities.
The day began with a mass for all the students, where the bishop told those gathered that “faith in Jesus must be at the heart of everything we do. This is what makes our Catholic schools so different. The ability and desire to proclaim and practice our faith in Jesus is what makes Walsh Jesuit so different from other schools.
He noted that it was still the year of St. Ignatius, commemorating the 500th anniversary of his conversion, which took place after he was seriously injured by a ricocheting cannonball that broke his leg. While recovering, Ignatius read about Jesus and the saints, deciding he wanted to be a saint too. He gave up his life as a soldier, laid down his sword, gave away his possessions, and set out to discern God’s will for his life.
Ignatius’ injury changed the course of his life. Later he founded the Society of Jesus – commonly known as the Jesuits/ “You are all formed in this great spiritual tradition. Walsh Jesuit can trace back to a cannonball fired 500 years ago,” the Bishop said.
He told the students that it took more courage for Saint Ignatius to follow Jesus than to follow his general. Reflecting on the day’s first reading, the bishop said the three men who refused to defy the king and worship a false god remained true to what they had learned and believed. Even when they were thrown into a fire, they believed that God would save them – and he did.
“Young Church here at Walsh Jesuit, I ask you to stay true to what you have learned. Have faith. It will give you great bravery to stand up for what is true,” Bishop Malesic said.
He told the students that their faith is somewhat protected within the walls of the school. They are given the tools they need to learn more about their faith, pray and openly discuss the things of God. But faith involves more than that. “We need the truths of the Church to be our anchor in reality. However, at its highest level, faith asks us to know the person of Jesus, to believe in him, to follow him and to trust him. It compels us to talk to him and listen to his voice in our lives,” he said.
Faith is fragile and the devil is constantly on the prowl looking for souls to devour, the Bishop said, urging those gathered, “Do not let your faith be taken away from you.”
He shared his journey of faith, explaining that he has always been a believer, but not always a devout Catholic. However, the gift of a Bible in her freshman year of college changed her life. He read it and the scriptures came alive for him.
“I began to know that the creator of this world, my creator, wanted to know me and wanted to be known to me. Jesus came alive to me by reading these scriptures. He spoke to me, heart to heart. He wanted to save me. He wanted to love me. And I had to let him save me and let him love me. I needed to let him into my life and I did,” he said. The bishop noted that he still had this Bible and planned to be buried with it.
“Knowing Jesus in a more personal way has made all the difference in the world for me. And when I felt the pull of the priesthood, my faith in Jesus gave me the courage to say “yes” to a very counter-cultural vocation.
Living the life of Christ is radically different from how the world would have us live, the bishop explained. “But it is a fulfilling life, a life filled with joy, a life that has meaning and purpose. Have the faith to live out your baptismal call to follow Jesus,” he said, adding that students do not nor should they be afraid if they struggle with their faith.
“The salvation of your soul is God’s purpose for you. If you follow Jesus, that’s where he will lead you – to the kingdom of your Heavenly Father. God expects great things from you, because he has given you a great thing – Jesus. Believe in him.
The Bishop also reminded the students that they are all blessed and each has gifts to offer. “This time is a gift. Make good use of it.”
Click on here you areLearn more about Walsh Jesuit, a Jesuit-sponsored coeducational school with an enrollment of 1,000.