By Jazmin Rosa
MIDDLE VILLAGE — Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto visited two Catholic schools on Jan. 28, the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, as part of Catholic Schools Week.
“I chose today for a very special reason,” Bishop Chappetto said during his visit to Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy, Middle Village. “Because it is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas who is the patron saint of Catholic schools and a wonderful role model for our students in terms of his learning and his holiness.”
Bishop Chappetto also visited St. Joan of Arc School in Jackson Heights that day. Most of the auxiliary bishops of the Brooklyn Diocese are visiting Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens throughout the week to trumpet the virtues of a Catholic school education.
At Our Lady of Hope, Bishop Chappetto was greeted with a prayer service led by Father Peter Purpura, the pastor of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church. That was followed by a presentation of a placard to the school to commemorate the bishop’s visit.
“Everyone gets so serious when the bishop comes,” Father Purpura joked.
Students sat and listened in near-perfect silence as Bishop Chappetto spoke about the privilege of being educated at a Catholic school, where faith and academics are stressed. Afterward, students talked with the bishop as he visited individual classrooms.
“Attending a Catholic school allows me to grow my faith, and it’s very important to me as a person to continue growing my faith and learning about where I come from,” said eighth-grader Samantha Kelly, 13, who said she plans to go to a Catholic high school.
At St. Joan of Arc’s, Bishop Chappetto was met with a ceremony, where students sang some inspirational songs and gave the bishop a custom school sweatshirt and a painting of Joan of Arc. Three students were selected to read essays they wrote about what it means to receive a Catholic school education.
“I value discipline and religion, and that’s such an important thing in Catholic schools,” said seventh-grader Carol Gomes, 12. “You don’t have to worry about too much stress and your friends and teachers are always there for you.”