Catholic Schools Week Archbishop Schnurr answers questions from Catholic high school students.
Students had the opportunity to participate in a teleconference, broadcast this year from LaSalle High School in Cincinnati. Archbishop Schnurr was seated at a table with Susie Gibbons, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic schools. Through teleconferencing, the archbishop was able to see and hear the students from other high schools as they asked questions and listened to his answers. Questions focused on topics such as immigration, Mass attendance, New Evangelization, service to others, and the role of young people in the church, among others.
Students from Badin High School asked the archbishop his thoughts on the trend of declining Mass attendance. In response, Archbishop Schnurr noted that church leaders must provide a consistent message about church teachings and emphasize that “the teachings of Christ are what make sense in this world and in our lives. This is the message we have to get to our people. We don’t want to get people to Mass just to fill the pews, but because we believe our faith brings us joy, peace and fullness of life.”
The young people also asked for the archbishop’s advice on how to live their faith in secular world. “The sacraments give us the strength we need, in particular the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Schnurr said, recalling that the Apostles were fearful and timid before the Holy Spirit came upon them. “The Holy Spirit is initially given to us through baptism, then reaffirmed at confirmation,” he said “We need to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives again and again. The Spirit will help us live a good life, a fulfilling life.”
Bishop Fenwick High School students wondered how they can improve how they live out the Gospel and help others to do the same. “What the world needs today is witnesses to the faith, not so much teachers,” the archbishop answered. “The greatest thing we can do to help others understand the faith and encounter Jesus Christ in their lives is to witness to our faith. Our faith has to come alive, so others can see that joy, peace and fulfillment of life.”
Students from Purcell Marian High School asked what the church is doing to attract young people back to the faith. “We want you to encounter Jesus Christ and experience what that means,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “I don’t think you realize how much people value your presence at Mass on Sunday. People have a great deal of affection for our young people and have a lot to learn from you.”
“I don’t like it when people say you are the church of the future,” he added. “You have a lot to offer the church now. Be yourselves, go out, witness to your faith and witness to what you’ve learned in Catholic schools.”
LaSalle students asked for the archbishop’s advice as ‘they approach high school graduation and go out into the world. He advised them to make spiritual growth a priority. “If you are a solid moral individual, you will make a major contribution in whatever you do,” he said. “Don’t allow yourselves to become involved in self-serving activities. Always listen to others, have respect for them and be willing to learn from them.”
At the conclusion of the teleconference, the archbishop told the students his time with them was energizing and said, “I’m walking away full of hope.”
He reminded them of Pope Francis preaching that “Our God is the God of surprises. Thank you for being who you are,” the archbishop said. “Now go out and surprise the world!