St. Augustine Catholic School students were in for a treat last week when each grade was given a chance at an intimate assembly with Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton archdiocese, held Thursday, April 9.
Smith has made it his goal to visit each of the 182 schools in his archdiocese in order to better understand the students and the challenges they are facing in today’s world.”
St. Augustine principal Curt Baron says it was the goal of the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic school board to have Smith visit each of its school over the course of the academic year.
“I think the message is the same across the board, that you’re loved and you’re important,” said Baron.
“I think it’s really good. He’s such as personable person and everybody’s getting something out of it,” he added.
Students would not usually have the opportunity to sit in an open discussion with an archbishop and Baron says the honour is made even better through how open Smith is with the students.
“What I’m finding is the more I talk to young adults like yourselves, the more I learn,” Smith told St. Augustine’s high school students during their assembly.
In the past, Smith says he has held discussion with students on topics ranging from depression to people cutting themselves. He noticed each topic had a link to stress. Smith used his time in the school to guide the students in how to deal with such challenges, “…how to deal with it as Catholics.”
“Jesus loves you more than you could ever know,” he added. Smith says there are times when young people need to see that love as something tangible, and that is where their teachers and the Church steps in.
Other questions asked during the assembly related to: how one could know if they are going to Heaven, what is love, if homosexuals will go to Hell and the purpose of life.
Smith says if he wants the students to walk away from the assembly with one message, he wants it to be that God and the Church loves them.
In each of his topics covered, Smith told the students that even when they make mistakes, they need to place their love in God and that will take them to where they need to go.
“God respects human freedom completely. There will be a moment of judgment. Humans have the freedom to accept or reject God,” said Smith.