The Gibbons community started the 2019-2020 school year by joining together in faithful prayer to celebrate Mass on August 15, the feast of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Most Rev. Luis Rafael Zarama, the Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, presided over the Mass with Gibbons Chaplain Fr. Daniel Oschwald.
Diocesan officials also attended the first All-School Mass of the year, as did members of the Gibbons Board of Trustees as well as a group of Gibbons Alumni who returned to their alma mater to sing in the choir. They joined the students and educators who filled the main gym, which was transformed into a sacred and solemn space for Mass.
The Mass, all in the Gibbons community would agree, was not only fitting but also an inspiring way to launch the school year. That it took place on the feast day of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, made the Mass even more meaningful to the attendees.
Principal Nancy A. Barkan described the Assumption of Mary as a gift from God. “Mary,” she said, “brings our prayers directly to God.” She then welcomed Bishop Zarama and guests and thanked them for celebrating the start of another academic year with the Gibbons school community.
As is his way, Bishop Zarama delivered his homily from the altar rather than from behind the podium. He talked about how the feast of the Assumption helps us to understand the significance of listening and how others help us become who we are and help us find the will of God in our lives.
“Mary was humble enough to listen to the word of God, to find his will,” Bishop Zarama said. “How humble are we to really listen and ask, what is the will of God for me? And who are the people he sent to us to help us find that will?”
Bishop Zarama then explained that “life is not always easy. It has its challenges. How we accept those challenges is up to us.” He also said that our formation is not just about learning things but also about learning how to form our souls, which allows us to find joy and meaning in our lives.
In closing, he said, “Find joy in living life, and ask Mary to help us to be humble to listen, and to say yes to following God’s will.”
At the end of Mass, he told attendees that every day he looks for God’s gift and that celebrating the Eucharist with the Gibbons community was like receiving 1,000+ gifts. “You made me the happiest bishop,” he said. “You are a great gift to me.”
After Mass, Bishop Zarama spent time at Gibbons. He toured the school with Principal Barkan, connected with students and attended classes.