Archbishop speaks of ‘Minneapolis Miracle,’ acts of charity at Catholic schools Mass

| October 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda greets students after the Mass of the Holy Spirit Oct. 10 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Archbishop Bernard Hebda celebrated the Mass, along with Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Speaking to more than 12,000 Catholic school students at U.S. Bank Stadium Oct. 10, Archbishop Bernard Hebda explained that the “Minneapolis Miracle” really was the result of practice, and that students can learn from that sign of success.

“I was like, that is really true. It was just hard work,” said Jodie Rief, an eighth-grader from Guardian Angels Catholic School in Chaska, regarding the archbishop’s explanation of the Vikings’ last-second,61-yard touchdown pass play at the stadium Jan. 14 against the New Orleans Saints dubbed the “Minneapolis Miracle.”

Rief and fellow classmates from Guardian Angels were among the crowd of students and adults gathered at the Vikings’ stadium in Minneapolis for a school-focused Mass of the Holy Spirit. Minneapolis-based nonprofit Catholic Schools Center of Excellence hosted its second Mass of the Holy Spirit.

“I thought it was fun with the bishop and all the priests here,” said Lily Anderson, an eighth-grader from Highland Catholic School in St. Paul, who also attended the first school-organized Mass at CHS Field in St. Paul in 2016. “They were both pretty good.”

Students from 79 Catholic schools with grades K-8 around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis arrived in the morning, greeted by a concert with Christian rapper Connor Flanagan. Sonar, a Twin Cities-based Catholic band, provided the music for Mass.

“They liked singing the songs,” said Melissa Horton of her fourth-grade students from Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis. “I think that they were so surprised that so many students would be here.”

Catholic elementary school students process in with banners at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

During the opening procession for Mass, students processed in carrying banners for the Catholic schools represented at the Mass. Students also proclaimed the readings and brought up tubs of coats during the offertory. The students participated in a Coats for Kids drive upon arrival, organized by the Minnesota Knights of Columbus state council. Students were encouraged to donate coats, hats and mittens.

Local Knights helped with the drive, and more than 40 fourth degree Knights were in the honor guard for Mass. Knights member Matt Birk, a former Vikings center, spoke to the students before Mass about the importance of faith and service.

“It’s really great to put joy on kids’ faces, giving them coats,” said Marc McMullen, a representative of the Knights of Columbus supreme council, which came in support of the event.

Archbishop Hebda encouraged the students to do similar acts of love in addition to donating coats — smiling for others, welcoming new students, thanking others, sharing food, and helping people in natural disasters.

“We gather today to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be more Christ-like, to open our hearts in this new school year so that we might learn how to put our faith into action,” Archbishop Hebda said. “It’s the Holy Spirit, who like the best possible coach, … breathes life into all of our efforts [and] who inspires us to do our best, to practice what it means to be a good Christian and to put our Catholic values into action.” 

Archbishop Hebda added that Catholic schools are a training ground for practicing the faith.

“So that on game day, we are going to be ready to step up, to put our faith into action and to be the hands, the feet, the voice and the compassion of Christ in a world that needs it,” Archbishop Hebda said.

The tradition of having a Mass of the Holy Spirit at the start of academic years dates back to Jesuit schools in 1548. It serves as a time to thank God for his gifts and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance during the school year.

More than 70 priests concelebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit with Archbishop Hebda. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, the vicar for Catholic education, who also concelebrated with Archbishop Hebda, said the Mass provided an opportunity to “lift up and highlight the important work that actually happens day to day” at Catholic schools.

“To see them together all at once is pretty overwhelming and beautiful and gives you a lot of hope for the future of our Church,” Bishop Cozzens said.

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