by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — They may not be old enough to vote, but Catholic high school students in Johnson County are still planning to make their voices heard in the public square this election season.
Each of the county’s three Catholic high schools — Bishop Miege in Roeland Park, St. James Academy in Lenexa, and St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park — are collaborating in prayer for the needs of our nation and are co-hosting a vigil Mass on the eve of the election in November. The event is collectively called “One Nation Under God.”
“First and foremost, the reason behind this is the general tendency for people to become polarized leading up to an election,” said Sister Christa Marie, FSGM, president of St. James Academy. “This is an event to remind ourselves God will oversee and provide for us with our elected officials, no matter the outcome.”
Sister Christa Marie said the event was not about the political candidates but, instead, an opportunity to place the election outcomes in God’s hands.
“We may be Democrat, Republican or Independent by party affiliation, but we are still one nation under God and desire his assistance for the needs of our nation and our elected officials.” she said.
In the nine days leading up to the election on Nov. 2, each high school will be celebrating a daily Mass with the intention of the nation, which together will comprise a novena. A mailing has been sent to the homes of all students, inviting families to send in their petitions for the nation, which will then be offered at the Masses at each of the schools.
Dr. Joe Passantino, president of Bishop Miege, said the novena and vigil Mass presented both an educational and spiritual learning opportunity for the teens.
“By involving our students in the ‘One Nation Under God’ vigil Mass and novena, we have additional opportunities to demonstrate the direct relationship between our faith and our nation,” said Passantino. “As we gather together at Mass and pray for our nation and elected leaders, we recognize more clearly than ever that we depend upon God’s grace in every aspect of our lives.”
Dr. Bill Ford, president of St. Thomas Aquinas, agreed.
“Even though most of our young people are under the voting age, it is important for them to understand that the freedom we enjoy in our country is not without responsibility,” he said. “They need to grasp the understanding that the choices we make matter and have consequences for all of God’s people.”
The vigil Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Lenexa on Nov. 1, the feast of All Saints, at 6 p.m. The Mass will be offered for the intention of the country. All are invited to attend.
All three schools will be represented on the altar, where students will proclaim the readings, offer the petitions, bring up the offertory gifts, lend their voices to the interscholastic choir, and serve the Mass. Students, wearing their regular school uniforms, will also minister as greeters for the general public.
“Students at the three high schools have their rivalries for sports and competitions, but we can come together and show the beauty of Catholic secondary education,” said Sister Christa Marie.
The chaplains of the three high schools will be concelebrating the Mass. The event marks the first time the three schools have collaborated specifically for a project. Combining faith and learning about the democratic process was a natural fit for high school students.
“It is important at the high school level to teach students to identify candidates who will uphold the moral principles of our Catholic faith,” said Passantino. “Because our elected leaders have such a huge influence on the future of our nation, it is essential we begin this process of educating our young people years before they become eligible to vote.”