BAY SETTLEMENT — As the Diocese of Green Bay gears up for its 150th anniversary on March 3, Holy Cross School celebrated its own 150th anniversary Feb. 12.
Bishop David Ricken joined members of the Norbertine religious community, who have served Holy Cross Parish since 1904, for the anniversary Mass. Also in attendance as special guests were members of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. The religious community was established to serve Holy Cross Parish and School.
Students and faculty wore commemorative T-shirts designed for the 150th anniversary, and after Communion, they stood and formed a semi-circle around the outer walls and front of the church and sang a special anniversary song, “Forever Gold and Blue,” written by teachers David Gusloff and Patty Nenning.
Other guests attending the anniversary Mass included representatives of Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) school system and the diocesan Department of Education. Holy Cross School graduates, now attending Notre Dame Academy, were also invited to the Mass. Several families, with five generations who have attended Holy Cross, were recognized by Bishop Ricken and given a special blessing.
In his homily, Bishop Ricken offered a brief history of the school and parish. Both were established by Crosier Fr. Edward Daems, who invited sisters from Racine to establish a community in Bay Settlement and begin the parish school in 1868.
“There’s no way we can possibly repay the religious women for all they have done for Catholic education,” said Bishop Ricken, “especially for this community, the Bay Settlement sisters of the Holy Cross, you have done so much for our diocese, both pastorally and educationally, and we’re very grateful to you.”
Bishop Ricken said the greatest compliment the parish can give the sisters “is to continue Catholic education, continue the religious life.”
One way would be by fostering vocations to the religious life and priesthood, he said. “I know that the best way to cultivate vocations is by helping our marriages and families to be strong,” he said. “I want to thank all of you parents who are making extra sacrifices to put this (school) as a priority for your family. … Those extra sacrifices plant the seeds of faith and are incredibly important.”
Bishop Ricken said that the diocese’s emphasis on missionary discipleship will also help Catholic schools continue to grow.
“As we enter into discipleship more and more, these efforts will multiply. If each disciple becomes a missionary disciple, through the schools, through the parishes, pretty soon we can change this whole part of the world and win the world for Christ,” he said. “It requires that we think differently, that we act differently. Each of us is called to introduce others to Jesus, to share with them what he’s done in our life.”
He said that knowing Jesus and being his best friend is the best gift the church can give to the next generation.
“Our world needs us more than it’s ever needed us in 150 years,” he said. “So I’m asking everybody in the diocese, as our main goal and main mission for next 10 years, to enable our communities to be real communities of faith by knowing, loving and serving Jesus.”
Following Mass, guests attended a reception in the school cafeteria.
To view more photos from the anniversary Mass, visit our Flickr album.