St. Joseph’s students go on national radio with Archbishop Hebda

| May 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

Eighth-grader Becca Tuvey was curious as to why people say, “You have a new guardian angel in heaven” when someone dies. So, she asked Archbishop Bernard Hebda about the expression during his visit to St. Joseph’s Catholic School in West St. Paul May 30.

“I think that people are speaking poetically,” Archbishop Hebda said, making a distinction between angels and humans. “What they’re saying is that if we’ve lived faithful lives and we find ourselves in the heavenly court, we find ourselves in heaven, then we’re going to want to intercede for those we’ve left behind.”

Archbishop Hebda responded to a variety of questions from the middle school students, and he asked them a few, too, during Relevant Radio’s live edition of its “Go Ask Your Father” show. The hourlong weekday program with the national Catholic radio network occasionally occurs at Catholic schools with a priest fielding questions from students. Having Archbishop Hebda coming to host the show provided St. Joseph’s sixth- through eighth-grade students the chance to meet and speak with the archbishop.

“I really liked getting to know him more personally,” said eighth-grader Hannah Allen, who said Archbishop Hebda had celebrated Mass at their school before. “Now we actually got to ask him questions, and we told him a little bit about ourselves.”

Archbishop Bernard Hebda answers questions from students at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in West St. Paul May 30. The program took place as a live broadcast of Relevant Radio’s “Go Ask Your Father.” Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Questions prepared by the students ranged from the personal to deep theological queries. Teachers and the radio station selected the students to ask the questions and answer the archbishop. Archbishop Hebda asked a few students about their experience at St. Joseph, and he asked each student at the microphone to share a bit about themselves.

Seventh-grader Joseph Elskamp asked whether or not it’s a sin to question the faith.

“I thought really deeply about something I might have to ask for him and something that would connect to me as well as him,” he said about preparing to ask the question.

“It wasn’t too long ago that Pope Francis talked about this,” Archbishop Hebda said in response to Elskamp’s question. “He says that sometimes when we have that sense of questioning in our hearts that it’s really a reflection of that fact that we want to know more, that we want to go deeper, that we want to be closer to Christ.

“Where there’s sin that might be involved is when we don’t try to resolve those doubts or those questions,” Archbishop Hebda added. “We have such great resources as Catholics, so we’re able to look at sacred Scripture. We’re able to go and speak to our priests to get their reactions to those questions that we have. We have the great ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church.'”

Eighth-grader Keeley William asked the archbishop about whether or not it’s OK to use a smartphone in church. She said later in an interview, “I just have always wondered it because people have used their phones for Scripture, and I don’t know if that was ever wrong or right,” regarding her choice of the question.

The archbishop said Scripture and breviary apps are appropriate, “but basically, we want to make sure that we’re not doing anything that’s disrespectful.” He said that he uses a breviary app on his phone for prayer.

Sixth-grader Nate Rohrer asked Archbishop Hebda about how he chose the priesthood. The archbishop shared his journey from childhood when he first felt the call, to law school, where he ultimately chose to answer the call to priestly ministry. Allen said she was surprised to learn that the archbishop said he knew as early as the second grade that he wanted to become a priest and that he had obstacles to pursuing priesthood early on.

“The more that I was in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, the more that I had a sense that the work of the priest was so important in the life of the Church because it’s the Eucharist that forms us as a community,” Archbishop Hebda said.

The archbishop was also asked about why there is a difference between men and women’s roles in the Church. He said that “there’s a complementarity between the gifts that God has given to women and to men, and we see that God calls both to serve the Church in different ways, but always of equal importance.”

In asking the students questions, Archbishop Hebda learned about some of the students’ roles in their recent school musical, “Mary Poppins.” Eighth-grader Marta Pursley, who played Jane Banks, shared about the play and her favorite song, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which she also spelled for the audience.

Students also sang the hymn “As I Kneel Before You” for a segment of “Go Ask Your Father.” Though not present at the event, St. Joseph’s elementary students had artwork on display in the front of the room.

Archbishop Hebda asked sixth-grader Nathan Schaffer about the school’s STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — classrooms. Schaffer talked about the water bottle rocket he made with a group, his favorite STEAM project.

“I like it because you have to use teamwork and design the rocket as light and as aerodynamic as you can get,” he told the archbishop.

The Aim Higher Foundation, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that supports Catholic schools, sponsored the event with St. Joseph’s and Relevant Radio. St. Joseph Principal Greg Wesely said Aim Higher has been a big supporter of the school, helping students’ families afford a Catholic education.

“The questions were so heartfelt,” Wesely said about the students. “I thought that was really special, I’m sure, for the archbishop.”

Archbishop Hebda said he enjoyed visiting with the students both on air and during the breaks.

“I was really impressed by how articulate they were [and] about how faith-filled they were and excited about the possibilities for evangelization through the mass media,” he said.

Watch the May 30 edition of “Go Ask Your Father” from Facebook Live below.


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