By Patrick Downes
Hawaii Catholic Herald
Bread with the Bishop — too ordinary? Biscuits with the Bishop — too run of the mill? Baguettes, too, uh, French?
Succumbing to the allure of alliteration, organizers settled on “Bagels with the Bishop.” As a title, it has worked well these past several years, even if the chewy donut isn’t consistently on the menu.
But always in the menu: the bishop.
Bagels with Bishop is a name of the encounter the leader of Hawaii’s Catholic Church has with a Catholic high school senior class over a light breakfast with a side of conversation, questions, answers, advice, prayer and souvenir selfies with the main man, Bishop Larry Silva. Bagels optional.
Bagels began in 2012 as a pilot program prepared by the Augustine Educational Foundation, the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and the Hawaii Catholic Schools office.
“It proved to be a successful event, met with enthusiasm” by all involved, said Lisa Gomes, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
In 2014, her office took the lead in coordinating the events, one for each of Hawaii’s seven Catholic high schools.
A typical session opens with a welcome, introductions and prayer followed by a simple breakfast.
The seniors are invited to participate in The Newman Connection which links new college students with the Catholic campus ministry or the closest Catholic parish to their college. A representative from the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry also invites the students to connect with the office on social media to keep up with the programs it offers young adults.
Bishop Silva speaks to the seniors about the importance of sustaining their relationship with Jesus past high school and as they become young adults.
Students submit questions in advance in writing to the bishop who answers as many as time allows.
Each senior then has an opportunity to have his or her photo taken with the bishop. A souvenir framed print is given later to the student.
Because approximately 40 percent of Hawaii Catholic schools students are not Catholic, Bagels with Bishop is also viewed as evangelization. To this point, Gomes quoted Pope Francis who said in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, “The Gospel is for everyone, not for some. It’s not only for those who seem closer, more receptive, more welcoming. It’s for everyone.”
“Our hope is that Bagels with Bishop will foster continued growth in the Catholic faith of our youth as they transition into young adulthood,” Gomes said.
The Youth and Young Adult Ministry office also hosts similar events for seniors who do not attend Catholic schools. The Maui vicariate’s “Breakfast with Bishop” follows the same outline as Bagels, but without the professional photo. The west Honolulu vicariate started “An Evening with Bishop” last year.
Here is the Bagels with the Bishop schedule for this year. All are in Honolulu except where indicated:
- Saint Francis School, Jan. 25
- Saint Louis School, Jan. 26
- Maryknoll School, March 2
- St. Joseph School, Hilo, March 8
- St. Anthony School, Wailuku, March 16
- Sacred Hearts Academy, March 23
- Damien Memorial School, April 13