SCRANTON – While the school year ended in a very unusual way, eighth grade students, their families and educators, were able to enjoy a little bit of normalcy as they were invited to gather together in prayer.

Before graduating and moving onto high school, eighth grade students were given a link for a virtual closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera.

The Diocese of Scranton Catholic Schools Office and Diocesan Office of Communications collaborated to produce the Mass, incorporating the bishop celebrating Mass with students from various Diocesan schools conducting individual readings, offering prayers and singing various hymns.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera congratulated the students, parents and teachers for adapting to the challenging circumstances of the coronavirus. He also acknowledged many milestone moments, including concerts, field trips and sporting events had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus.

“What should we do when we find ourselves faced with all of these difficult and confusing things? Should we worry? Should we give up? Should we be afraid? No. Absolutely not,” Bishop Bambera said.

The bishop encouraged students to look for answers to those questions in the Gospel of Saint Mark.

During the closing Mass, the Gospel message of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee was proclaimed. During a huge storm, the disciples, who were fishermen, realized they needed someone far more capable to calm the wind and waves and bring everyone to safety.

“They turned to the only one who could help, Jesus,” the bishop told the students.

During his virtual homily, Bishop Bambera explained to the students the same message applies now during COVID-19.

“Boys and girls, we’re like those disciples in the midst of that storm right now. We wonder if we’ll make it through these difficult times. We wonder if things will ever get back to normal, if school will ever be like it was before, if we’ll be safe,” he said.

The bishop asked the kids to remember what the disciples did during the storm.

“They turned to Jesus, who was right with them, in the midst of the storm. When they were humble enough to say ‘Lord, we can’t do this anymore by ourselves,’ that is when Jesus calmed the waters and brought them to safety,” Bishop Bambera said.

As he sent them off to enjoy the summer months, the bishop reminded the students to never forget that Jesus is with each one of us at all times.

“Ask him, every day, to help you. He will. That’s his promise,” the bishop said. “He’ll be with you in good times and difficult moments. He will watch over us with His great love and concern. He did that for His disciples and he promises to do it for me and for you!”