BEAR — Seventy high school seniors — 10 from each Catholic high school in the Diocese of Wilmington — were honored April 26 with the St. Francis de Sales Award at a Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Bear. Bishop Koenig presented each of the students with an award medal that features St. Francis de Sales on the front and the invocation, “St. Francis de Sales, pray for us,” on the back.
St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of the Diocese of Wilmington. An accomplished preacher and writer, he is known for his goodness, patience and mildness.
The church was filled with the students and their families, as well as representatives from each of the schools. Each student had his or her medal placed around their neck by the bishop while a representative from his or her school read a list of accomplishments, college destinations and career ambitions.
During his homily, Bishop Koenig told the students that they were there to celebrate the students’ gifts that the congregation had learned about during the medal ceremony.
“We especially recognize the way we’ve been given those gifts and we share those gifts with others,” he said.
That is true no matter the nature of the gift. Whether that was as a student, a student government leader, community servant, athlete, artist, or as a brother or sister to a classmate, “we’re especially mindful of how you use those gifts for the good of God, to help others. And that’s really the purpose of why God gives us those gifts,” the bishop said.
Bishop Koenig asked if any of the students took Latin. Finally, one girl raised her hand, and he asked her if she knew the meaning of the phrase “carpe diem.” A number of students responded, “Seize the day.”
“I love that phrase, ‘seize the day,’ ‘seize the moment.’ I would just encourage you to seize those moments that present themselves to you, to use your gifts for the good of others,” Bishop Koenig said.
Most often, those opportunities occur in very ordinary ways, he continued. The students can share their gifts by being merciful, loving and encouraging, and by teaching by example.
One of Bishop Koenig’s previous assignments was at a seminary in New York. He told the story of a seminarian who worked at a soup kitchen in the Bronx. It was operated by the Missionaries of Charity, and their leader, Mother Teresa, was scheduled to visit. The seminarian very much wanted to meet the nun, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was canonized in 2016.
The seminarian did not see Mother Teresa on the day she was scheduled to visit, and toward the end of his day, his final assignment was to put some groceries away. He went into the kitchen, and in the corner he saw a nun in the corner peeling potatoes. Recognizing the woman as Mother Teresa, the seminarian introduced himself and asked if she had any words that might help him in his ministry.
“She looked at him and she said, ‘Peel some potatoes,’” Bishop Koenig recalled.
Afterward, the seminarian thought about what she had said. The bishop said the man realized that Mother Teresa was telling him to “seize that moment in which you can provide for those in need, for what you can do for that person who’s in front of you.”
The award recipients are as follows”
St. Elizabeth High School
Saint Mark’s High School
Ss. Peter and Paul High School
Mary Kate Keegan