Every year Bishop Edward K. Braxton devotes a significant amount of time to Pastoral Visitations to the Catholic schools in the Diocese. These visits afford him the opportunity to see each school firsthand and to offer his personal support to the parish pastors, school principals, faculty and staff of our elementary and secondary schools. One of his primary goals is to strengthen the Catholic identity of each school and to make sure that the Catholic faith is being taught faithfully and accurately. During his conversations with the students in their classrooms, he teaches them about different aspects of their faith.
This fall the Bishop visited The Cathedral of St. Peter School (Sept. 26); St. Mary/St. Augustine School (Oct. 15); Gibault Catholic High School (Oct. 21); Mater Dei Catholic High School (Nov. 4); St. Theresa of Avila School (Nov. 6); Althoff Catholic High School (Nov. 16); and St. John the Baptist Catholic School (Nov. 19). He was scheduled to celebrate Thanksgiving Mass at Althoff and Mater Dei on Nov. 24th and 25th, and St. Ann Catholic School (Dec. 3) and will visit Sr. Thea Bowman Catholic School (Dec. 11).
When he met with the high school students, the Bishop discussed the Letter to Young People from His Holiness, Pope Francis informing them about World Youth Day which will be celebrated in Kraków, Poland in 2016. St. John Paul II, who started WYD, was the Archbishop of Kraków before he was elected Pope in 1978. He also discussed the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family which concluded at the Vatican on Oct. 18, 2014. The visits always include an opportunity for the students to ask the Bishop questions on a wide range of topics.
During his visits to the elementary schools, he discusses the various topics the students are studying in their religion classes. These discussions often focus on Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, preparation for confirmation, the lives of the saints, Catholic prayers, the ministry of the Holy Father and the activities of the Diocese. The children always ask him questions about his personal life and his day-to-day activities as a Bishop. The Bishop regularly talks to the students about the priesthood and the religious life and encourages them to open their hearts to the call of the Holy Spirit to serve the Church as religious sisters and brothers, permanent deacons, and as priests.
In his recent visit with the Children at St. John the Baptist School in West Frankfort the children welcomed him with songs taught to them by Father Eusebius Mbidioka, the Parish Administrator. The eighth graders delivered a special welcoming address and talked about their preparation for confirmation in the spring.
In a visit with the children in grades 2, 3, and 4, he met Logan Lampley (pictured next to the Bishop in the photograph), a second grader who told him that his mother had died in September. The Bishop told him that he would remember his family (his mother, Tiffany, his father, Casey, and his younger sister, Olivia) often in his prayers. At the end of the visit, the Bishop and the children prayed with Logan for his mother.
These Pastoral Visitations are an integral part of the Bishop’s ministry as the primary teacher of the Catholic faith in the Diocese.