By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
PARKVILLE — When he was a teacher early in his career, Bishop Robert W. Finn said that part of him wanted summer never to end.
“But the reassurance of new life and the goodness of co-workers and students always won me over in late August,” he told diocesan school teachers and administrators in his homily at their annual Mass and convocation Aug. 15 to start another school year.
Though summer vacation is nice and the work ahead is daunting, it is still great to get back into the classroom for the vital work ahead, Bishop Finn told the teachers gathered at St. Therese Parish in Parkville.
“The cycle is renewed in the arrival of our co-workers and our students,” he said. “The sudden infusion of life and energy soon will be, perhaps already is, engaging us.
“It is good,” he said. “It is our calling. It is the active resumption of the journey of life and learning and growth.”
Learning and growth is not a one-way street between teacher and students, Bishop Finn said.
“Our students will change before our eyes. They will live and learn and grow, and so will we,” he said.
“We know that new life, meaningful learning, and real growth always means leaving something behind and starting up again,” the bishop said.
“Our lives get changed by the people we have encountered and the experiences we have shared,” he said. “Learning stretches our minds and hearts. Growth means something that was once comfortable doesn’t quite fit any longer.”
It’s not easy, Bishop Finn said.
“At times, we may be tempted to look back in regret, to say I could have or should have done better,” he said.
“We could be nostalgic for a time that seemed simpler,” he said.
“In these moments, God’s gift is hope,” Bishop Finn said. “Hope helps us look forward. We trust each other to help, and we trust God knowing that he can and will and does work miracles, bringing something new and even better out of what has been, whether joyful or painful.”
Bishop Finn told the teachers that this summer has been particularly “long and challenging.”
“But the promise of new life, of new learning, of new growth; the reassurance of good co-workers in the church, causes me to have hope,” he said.
“For us as followers of Jesus Christ, as co-workers and disciples who do what we do surrounded by a communion of heavenly friends, as children of Mary our heavenly Queen, for us regret must always give way to hope,” Bishop Finn said.
Bishop Finn noted that during the Mass, teachers renew their Baptism promises, profess their faith, and promise to practice Christian principles fully in their lives as a model to their students.
“We voice our resolve to teach and form and protect those entrusted to us — in partnership with their parents — with renewed hope,” he said.
“I thank you for the faith and work that you have brought and will bring to our project of Catholic education,” the bishop said.
“We thank God for our students who, by their simple love and trust and faith, remind us every day how important and vital our work is,” he said.
Bishop Finn said it was quite appropriate that the teachers began this year’s convocation with Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.
“We often ask Mary, ‘Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ,’” he said. “Yes, make us worthy to have hope in Christ’s promises.
“Today at the side of God’s throne and at the pinnacle of the Communion of Saints is Mary, assumed into heaven, radiant queen, Mother of God, and our Mother,” Bishop Finn said.
“Mary, our hope, keep us always on a safe path to Jesus,” he said.