WINSLOW — When asked what advice he had for third and fourth graders at St. John Regional Catholic School in Winslow, Bishop Robert P. Deeley’s answer was both simple and descriptive of the beauty of a Catholic education, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

“Study, work hard, learn all that you can, and pray. You get to do all of those things at a Catholic school. You get to put it all together so it makes sense and we are able to know what God wants us to do in life.”

The bishop made a special visit to the school on Dec. 15, and celebrated a morning Mass for students and staff at St. John as well as parishioners at Corpus Christi Parish.

With Christmas approaching, the atmosphere at the school and church was festive, and the excitement of the students was clearly visible. During the Mass, Deeley told the children to always remember what the four candles on the Advent wreath mean.

“They stand for peace, joy, hope and love,” said the bishop, according to the release. “That’s what Jesus and Advent are all about. Accept each person for who they are, their gifts, and their ability to share those gifts with others.”

The bishop also told the students that the best way to prepare for Christmas is to grow in appreciation of God’s gift to all, Jesus, and to receive any gift they get with gratitude.

“When someone hands you a gift, they are saying to you that they care for you and love you,” said Deeley according to the release. “Be grateful for whatever gifts you get. They are signs of love for us and we know that all love is from God. The most important and special gift we can give to each other is our care and love for one another.”

After Mass, Deeley walked over to the nearby school to pay the students a visit in their classrooms. During his tour of the school, he enjoyed performances from the school concert held on Thursday night and read a book to the younger students. The bishop also blessed the rosary beads used by the kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders.

While visiting with the third and fourth graders, he received a special handmade bag, assembled by students, that included rosary beads and an ornament for the bishop’s Christmas tree.

“Do you know that my Christmas tree is going up today?” said Deeley according to the release. “Now I have a new ornament to put up!”

Before departing, staff members and faculty at St. John prepared a lunch for the bishop. Joining Deeley on the school visit were the Rev. Daniel Baillargeon, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Waterville; Suzanne Lafreniere, director of public policy for the diocese; and Jim King, superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools. Along with Baillargeon, the Rev. Matthew Gregory, parochial vicar for Corpus Christi Parish, also concelebrated the Mass with Deeley on Friday morning.

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