Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki celebrated Mass for more than 1,200 students for the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass on Friday, Feb. 3, at Catholic Memorial High School. (Submitted photo)

While Michelangelo’s David sculpture is a completed sight to behold, his unfinished sculptures have a lot to say to us as well.

“You can begin to see a shape,” Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki explained to more than 1,200 students who filled the gym of Catholic Memorial High School during a special Catholic Schools Week Mass on Friday, Feb. 3.

It’s clear that Michelangelo had a specific vision of what he expected the unfinished sculptures on display in Italy to eventually look like, Archbishop Listecki noted, much as a great composer can imagine harmony in a symphony or a great coach can envision a successful offensive strategy.

The archbishop used this analogy to remind the school students that they, too, have a special “big picture” vision of how things should be.

“That vision comes through your faith,” he said, because the students attend Catholic school and thus can see their lives with a spiritual vision. Students from Catholic Memorial hosted the Mass for students from the Waukesha Catholic school system as well as middle school students from St. Anthony on the Lake, Pewaukee; St. Jerome, Oconomowoc; St. Leonard, Muskego; and St. Mary in Hales Corners.

“Every one of us has a plan. Once we’re introduced to Jesus, the whole world changes,” Archbishop Listecki said. “We are never alone. God is always working with us and working for us,” he said.

Each person must ask the question, “What does God want from me?” In the Gospel, the students and school staff members heard how Jesus instructed his apostles to teach people about him so that they would also know of the life to come.

The Catholic school leaders and staff — who Archbishop Listecki asked to stand to be recognized during his homily — are signs of God’s presence in the students’ lives, he told them, as well as their parents and others who sacrificed before them to give them the opportunity of a Catholic education.

A sacrifice made by school staff members in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he noted, was being among the first in the country to return to full-time, in-person school in fall 2020, after the pandemic began. Archbishop Listecki said testing results have demonstrated not only that students have kept up with their grade levels, but they are now a grade ahead in tested competencies.

The archbishop encouraged the students gathered to follow the example set by St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, whose feast day fell on the day of the special Mass this year. St. Blaise expressed what he believed and followed what Jesus taught. Archbishop Listecki encouraged the students to learn more about all the saints, noting “they’re like us.”

Archbishop Listecki blessed everyone gathered with a prayer of St. Blaise. Catholic Memorial has hosted the annual Mass for at least 20 years. Its own students enjoy seeing principals and teachers from their old grade schools, and no doubt some eighth graders imagine what it will be like a year from now to be among new high school classmates sitting in the bleachers.

“Sometimes I wish you could look through my eyes and see what I see,” Archbishop Listecki told all the students.

He said they have tremendous power — “not as the world would want it, but as God wants it.”

“Use your gifts wisely,” he concluded.