“There’s a lot of excitement about doing this,” said Jane Schueller, principal of Resurrection School in Allouez, one of the event coordinators. “My count, as of today (Sept. 23), is 9,878” people.
The Resch Center has a seating capacity of 10,000.
“This will be one of biggest (crowds) that the Resch Center has had,” added Schueller. “When we started talking numbers (with Resch Center officials), Elton John was the biggest (attraction) and this will probably (attract) more people than that.”
In years past, the diocese has sponsored all-school Masses at churches around the diocese during Catholic Schools Week, which occurs in early February. However, said Schueller, the winter weather usually prohibited large attendance at these liturgies.
She said the school administrators’ association had discussed for several years moving the all-school Mass to a different time and venue. “They decided last March that we should go ahead and plan an October Mass.”
A committee of five principals has been working with the diocesan Department of Education to plan the liturgy. Pamela Otto, principal of Holy Family School in Green Bay, is acquainted with a Resch Center official and made arrangements to use the facility, said Schueller.
Most of the schools will have their entire student body in attendance. Each school will be charged $1 per student to help defray the expenses, which include facility rental and personnel to operate lighting and sound equipment. The total amount is approximately $12,000, said Schueller. Some of the expenses will be absorbed by the principals’ association. Donations are also being accepted, she added.
Buses transporting students to the Resch Center will park at Lambeau Field. They will arrive between 8:30 and 9:20 a.m. “We want all the kids in their places by 9:30,” she said.
Bishop David Ricken, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau and Bishop Emeritus Robert Banks — as well as Norbertine Abbot Gary Neville and all priests serving in the diocese — have been invited to celebrate the Mass.
Due to limited seating, parents will not be invited to attend. Schueller said special guests will include the presidents of Silver Lake and St. Norbert colleges, 16 representatives from the religious orders located in the diocese and members of the Bishop’s Advisory Council (BAC) and Diocesan Board of Education.
“I think it’s very exciting just to be able to gather, to show the strength of our Catholic schools and how many kids and teachers are committed and dedicated to Catholic school education,” said Schueller, adding that the community will see that worship is an essential part of Catholic school education. “That is a great message to send.”
Knowing that many schools would be traveling long distances for the event, planners wanted to offer additional activities, said Schueller. Before Mass, youth choirs from all but one diocesan high school will take turns singing prelude music. During Mass, all choir members will lead the assembly in song. A retired music teacher is traveling to each school and rehearsing the liturgical music with students, added Schueller.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Ricken will offer a special blessing for all the teachers. To help distinguish them, Schueller said teachers will receive red polo shirts with a logo that says, “I Make a Difference.”
After Mass, the Catholic band, Building Permit, will perform for students. “All the kids are going to bring a bag lunch and eat in their seats and Building Permit will provide music for them,” said Schueller. The band, which consists of seven members from parishes in Neenah, Appleton and Kimberly/Darboy, is donating its time.
For more information about the all-school Mass or to make a donation to help defray costs, contact Jane Schueller at (920) 336-3230.