3K students at St. John Vianney watch the all-school Mass on Wednesday, Feb. 2. (Photo by Larry Hanson)

Parents who send their children to Catholic schools are following the example of Mary and Joseph in doing what’s best for their offspring.

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki drew those parallels at an all-school Mass at St. John Vianney as part of Catholic Schools Week on Wednesday, Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

In the Gospel reading (Luke 2:22-40), Mary and Joseph take Jesus to temple to be presented to God. “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’”

“Outwardly, he was fulfilling the law, but in reality, he was coming to meet his believing people, prompted by the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Listecki said in his opening comments at the beginning of Mass.

The archbishop said Mary and Joseph wanted to do what was best for Jesus – to be in a relationship with God. He said the students’ parents did the same thing for them a few years ago, bringing them to the Church to be baptized and to acknowledge the gift they were given by God.

“Your families did the same thing,” Archbishop Listecki said. “They wanted ultimately what’s best for you – your relationship with Jesus, your relationship with God. They wanted to make sure that was established in your lives. They wanted to acknowledge that gift that God had given to them and understood that they were entrusted with making sure you were on the right path.”

The Mass began with the blessing of candles – a symbol of the light Jesus represents.

“Without that light, sometimes you stumble,” Archbishop Listecki said. “Sometimes you bump into things. Sometimes you fall. With that light, you’re able to see and you’re able to direct your steps.”

He added that Catholic education serves as the light that allows the students to take steps and have a vision for the world.

The Mass at the Brookfield school is part of the archbishop’s tradition of celebrating Mass at schools throughout the archdiocese during Catholic Schools Week.

“I’m going to celebrate with the various communities, to celebrate who you are and to tell you how proud we are that you make up the community of Catholic schools,” Archbishop Listecki said.

For St. John Vianney Principal Brian Shimon, having the archbishop in person at Mass makes concrete some of the concepts that have been discussed in the classrooms.

“To have our chief shepherd joining our shepherd, Fr. (Ed) Kornath, it just connects us to the wider Church, the family,” Shimon said. “We talk often about our community of faith, and it is just such a tangible way we can expand our faith to the whole Milwaukee community and beyond.”