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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------JOSEPH N. LATINO
Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, MS

August 10, 2012
Bishop addresses students
By Bishop Joseph N. Latino
      My dear young people,
      It’s that time again for the beginning of a new school year. Vacation time has passed. For some too quickly for others not fast enough. It’s time to gather again with the school mates of last year and to meet and greet all new comers.
      Hopefully the summer vacation time has been enjoyable and has been the occasion of doing things that are only possible during this time; i.e. visiting relatives, old friends, meeting new friends, visiting new places, swimming, fishing, playing sports and all the fun things we associate with summer and vacation time. We also hope it has been a time to grow in size and maturity.
      As a child growing up I must admit there was a song I was not always glad to hear. I can still hear it today, “school days, school days, good ole golden rule days”. For me it meant the end of fun and the beginning of work.
      Now with a lot of age and a little bit of wisdom, even though I did not think so in my youth, I am grateful now that my parents instilled in me the importance of studying and school. I know now that education is a vital ingredient in the development of each of us as persons.
      And so I encourage you as you head back to the classroom to take advantage of the educational opportunities given to you and excel in your studies. Our world needs bright, talented young people of good moral character to reflect positive change in society.
      The chance to receive a solid education is a great gift. Do not squander this gift. Strive to be the best you can be.
      I urge you to be respectful of your teachers who have devoted their lives to building a better world through educating generations of youth. I challenge you to become leaders in the classroom and in the local community.
      Knowing that many of you may be the only Catholic in your grade or even your whole school, I ask you to be confident in your faith and share your faith in a kind, respectful manner that builds lasting bridges among your classmates and neighbors. I assure you of my prayers as I know this can sometimes present difficult situations for you.
      Throughout this year my hope for you is that you grow in faith, maturity, knowledge and wisdom. Open your hearts and minds to blessings the Lord has bestowed upon you by giving you an opportunity to learn and develop as strong Christian young women and men.
      I also ask you to continue to deepen your prayer life through the Eucharist and daily prayer. Be aware of God presence in your life and expand that relationship. I ask the Lord to give you all a safe journey through these upcoming months so that you may enjoy this important time in your lives.
      Dear young people, one thing I would like to impress upon you in a very profound way. Your life is very important and very precious to this world. Your family, teachers and friends love you and want what is best for you.
      Please do not make foolish choices that could put you or others in harm’s way. No text or phone call is worth answering while you are driving. Do not text and drive. Do not dial and drive. Do not drink and drive.
      Have enough love for your family and friends not to cause them unimaginable grief. Be responsible. School days are indeed a wonderful time in your life. Make sure you are able to look back on them one day and smile.
      Again open your hearts and minds to God’s call in your life. It could be a call to the priesthood or religious life. God bless you.

God bless you and God bless America.
Joseph N. Latino
Bishop of Jackson


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