Academy voices broke the silence of Bayshore on Thursday, December 8, when the energetic Father Paul Chuong of Mary Help of Christians Parish enlivened the entire school by enlisting their help in his homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception all-school Mass.
Father Paul would accept no lackluster responses but instead made students shout at the top of their lungs as they crossed themselves. He requested that whenever he said the word “Jesus,” students would energetically respond with “Holy Names.” Likewise, he requested that they say “love” whenever he said “Mary.” This activity was not merely fun. It also made an important point. Mary was the humble but strong individual who brought Jesus, the symbol of love, into the world.
Mr. Raimo, President of the Academy, spoke first during the Mass about the Virgin Mary’s importance. He noted that Mary was sent by God “helps us prepare for Christmas.” Mr. Raimo also acknowledged the special guests in the audience, alumnae from the 1958 class of Sacred Heart Academy. The Mass was dedicated to their late classmate, Florence Hughes.
Father Paul also noted that Mary was “unique in the history of salvation” as the person who first bore the cross. As an unmarried woman with child, Mary would have suffered considerable stigma from her community.
Father Paul connected with the class of 2012 when he reminded them that their worries about college were nothing compared to what Mary experienced throughout her life. He reminded the entire school community by quoting Pope John Paul II’s words: “Whenever you are worried, whenever you are afraid, pray to Mary.”
This Mass was also particularly special because it was the first time that the high school employed the changes in the liturgy and responses recently implemented by the Catholic Church.
New responses such as “and with your spirit” instead of “and also with you” occasionally caused students to stumble, but the Mass finished without a hitch. Father Paul’s words resonated with all students long after the Mass was over.