LIMA — Toledo Bishop Daniel Thomas had a message for Lima Central Catholic students: Do not be afraid.
The bishop led Mass at the high school Friday during his biannual campus visit, an opportunity for students to engage with church leadership directly.
Thomas’s message drew inspiration from Spanish nun St. Teresa of Jesus, whom the Catholic Church recognizes on Oct. 15 with a feast: “She was a fearless woman, despite any difficulty in her life. She always first feared God,” Thomas said.
The message resonates in an era dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We can’t be afraid because we know we have an eternal soul,” Thomas said. “Our students are taught that we’re destined for heaven. That’s what this school is all about: teaching young people to prepare, please God for a lifetime of generosity and service in the community as good citizens on Earth, and eventually as good citizens in heaven.”
Thomas tours the 14 high schools within Diocese of Toledo each year, visiting the Lima Central Catholic campus every other year for Mass, roundtables and lunch.
Each visit, Thomas takes questions from upperclassmen, which can range from church teachings on sexuality, vaccines and politics to personal questions about Thomas’s upbringing and life in the clergy.
Thomas first considered becoming a priest when he was 7 years old, an age at which he alternated between other childhood ambitions to become an astronaut, teacher or veterinarian, Thomas told students Friday in one example.
“Nothing is off the table. Every topic is open to be discussed,” Thomas said. He added: “They’re trying to understand more deeply what the church herself teaches.”