These words of Easter joy ring out throughout all the world — including in our own city of Norwalk. Having just celebrated my first Easter with the good people of St. Paul the Apostle Parish and the fine students at Norwalk Catholic School and St. Paul High School, I have been inspired by the great faith of so many who shared their joy of the Resurrection with me.
The church gifts us with 40 days of Lent so we can prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter. The season of Lent is dedicated to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and those themes were central to our schoolwide observance of Lent.
As I visited the classrooms to discuss the topics of sacrifice and conversion with our students, I was inspired by the many ways they sought to grow in their own faith during the recent penitential season. Some of them chose to give up something to which they were inordinately attached, while others chose to do an extra work of mercy for another person.
Each classroom visit concluded with an opportunity for the students to ask questions. One prevailing theme was Christ’s crucifixion, which indicates that our students really wanted to grow in their understanding of God’s great love for us — a love so great that He sent His only Son to suffer and die for our sins.
Many of our students embraced the challenge of almsgiving and brought in a variety of items which we donated to the Miriam House, a tremendous place which is truly worthy of support. Since my time in Norwalk, I have visited this fine home twice and always have been impressed by the good work done there and by the hospitality I received during my visits.
The Stations of the Cross were prominent in our preparations for Easter. We prayed them on several occasions, and our sixth-graders even reenacted them for students at our Early Childhood Center as well as our entire elementary school.
In addition to preparing for Easter, our students have also been preparing to receive sacraments. Our eighth-grade students were recently confirmed by Bishop Daniel Thomas. Having been sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, these young people have been commissioned to bear witness to Christ in their daily lives. Our second-graders received their first Holy Communion on the weekend of April 27 and 28. Jesus Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist, reminds us that Christ is always with us to give us comfort, strength, and hope.
This season of Easter is truly a season of hope because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Pope Francis emphasizes the truth that Christ is our only hope in his recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation, entitled, Christus Vivit. I leave you with his words, as I wish you and your families a joyous Easter Season as together we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:
Christ is alive. He is our hope and in a wonderful way, he brings youth to our world and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive.
He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope.
Local columnist the Rev. Andrew Wellmann is the chaplain for Norwalk Catholic and St. Paul High schools.