Bishop Celebrates Catholic Schools Week at St. John LaLande School

Bishop James V. Johnston accepts the Offertory gifts at the Jan. 29 Mass kicking off Catholic Schools Week at St. John LaLande School, Blue Springs. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

BLUE SPRINGS — Bishop James Johnston, Jr. nailed it when he began the all school Mass at St. John LaLande Parish Jan. 29 saying, “What better place to start Catholic Schools Week than in a Catholic School?”

Students and faculty, as well as some parents and grandparents and parishioners attended the Mass, celebrated by Bishop Johnston with Father Ron Elliott, pastor of St. John LaLande concelebrating. They were assisted by Deacons Jim Olshefsky and Doug Myler.

In his homily, the bishop spoke to the kids about King Solomon, the son of King David. When Solomon took over as king, it was scary for him. ‘I hope I don’t mess things up!’ His father had been so successful and the country had been so successful under him. “So, Solomon did something very wise, and very smart. He turned to God. … He prayed to God for help. But he didn’t ask God to be very rich, he didn’t ask God to be very powerful. He asked God for help to be wise and to be good, wise and good so he could care for the kingdom, the people he was responsible for.”

He told the students that being wise and good were the reasons they were attending a Catholic school.

“Smart and successful, we all want that. We want our schools to be really good so you can be smart and be successful. Your parents want that, I want that, Father Elliott wants that, all your teachers want that. But more important than that, we want you to be wise and good…. Smart and successful is okay, but your parents want you to grow up to be really good young men and women so that you’ll be good parents someday. So that you’ll lead other people as good people.”

He said there is a word in the Bible describing people who are wise and good. The word is “saints.” Bishop Johnston added, “We want you to become saints! That’s the main reason we have Catholic schools.””

Then, harkening to a familiar Gospel, he reminded them about the seeds sown by the gardener that fell on rocks, thin soil, thorns and good soil, with different results.

He told the students about the garden he enjoyed during his tenure as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, before coming to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The regular weeding, watering and caring for the garden yielded beautiful results, he said. Then he noticed some of the vegetables were being eaten. There was a groundhog in his garden! Bishop Johnston tried to discourage the groundhog by plugging the entrance to his hole with a large, heavy rock. The rodent dug around the rock and continued feasting on the vegetables. He heard that groundhogs didn’t like pepper, so he tried pouring a big jar of hot sauce down the hole. “He just covered it up with dirt.”

He also had to deal with rocks and weeds. “It took a lot of work to get my garden to look the way it did. It was beautiful. … That’s another way to look at your life. Not only are you soil, but in a way, you are the gardeners of your own heart. Each of us has to tend our heart so that the word of God and the seeds of faith planted there will grow. … We have spiritual groundhogs that try to chew us up, eat things up in our lives. We have to get rid of the varmints that hurt our faith … and the rocks and weeds in our life so that God’s word can grow.’

After the Mass, Bishop Johnston toured the school, talking with students, asking and answering their questions and blessing each class.


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October 28, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph