Notes there’s ‘something special’ in Anchorage
One of the highest ranking clerics in the Catholic Church — Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York — addressed Catholic high school students in Anchorage telling them, “You are worth every ounce of sacrifice” that goes into Catholic education.
More than 100 students and faculty members from Holy Rosary Academy and Lumen Christi High School attended the March 24 talk held in Lumen Christi’s gymnasium. Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz and Juneau Bishop Edward Burns accompanied the cardinal, along with Father Tom Brundage of St. Andrew Church in Eagle River, Father Leo Walsh of St. Benedict Church in Anchorage, and Father James Cruz, priest secretary to Cardinal Dolan.
Cardinal Dolan lauded the two Catholic high schools of the Anchorage Archdiocese as “first class.”
“I wish I could go to Holy Rosary. I’ve heard so many good things about it,” he said, adding that Lumen Christi, too, has “something special here.”
Observing the Catholic ethos of Lumen Christi he said that when he sees a school that is “bright and cheerful and warm and welcoming,” where the “teachers are engaged” and “students are courteous” and “a place is proud to be Catholic…proud to be a home of faith” and there are crucifixes and images of the Virgin Mary in classrooms, he knows Catholic schools are on the right track.
“They train you not just to do well in this world – you bet they do,” he told the students, “we also prepare you for eternity because as Jesus said, ‘What good does it do if you gain the whole world and you suffer the loss of your soul.’”
The two Catholic schools “train not just the mind, not just the heart, not just the body, but the soul, where God lives, and that’s why we rejoice in it, that’s why we’re so proud of you,” he continued. “That’s why you are worth every ounce of sacrifice.”
He urged the students and their teachers to “keep up the good work.”
After his remarks, the cardinal answered several wide-ranging questions. On a question regarding his greatest inspiration, he answered: “…Jesus. He’s the way, the truth and the life. He’s my best friend. He’s my Lord and Savior. …and I look forward to spending forever with him.” On what role social media should play in evangelizing the culture, the famously gregarious cardinal who often appears in the secular media said, “That’s hard work…when you’re naturally shy and retiring like me,” drawing laughs from the audience familiar with the cardinal’s famous joviality. “But it’s worth it, everybody, because we can never, ever, ever pass up the chance to tell the truth and speak about Jesus…and what the church really stands for.”
On a question regarding vocations, he said he had wanted to become a priest since around the age of four. But he told the youth that “if it’s not clear, don’t you worry because it’ll work out as long as you pray, as long as you keep good friends, as long as you trust your teachers and your parents to help make healthy decisions in life, it’ll work out.” And then he joked, “If Anchorage doesn’t offer you a good deal, come to New York.”
Before the question and answer period, Archbishop Schwietz rallied the students to stand and sing the Alaska song, led by Lumen Christi student Christine Flint, whom the cardinal called, “America’s idol here.”
Cardinal Dolan was made a cardinal in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The prelate just completed a three-year term in 2013 as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A strong advocate for Catholic schools, he is currently urging lawmakers in New York to provide tax credits to go toward scholarships for students there whose parents choose private schools.