Energy was high and there were smiles all around Burlington County’s only Catholic high school as students, faculty and staff welcomed Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., Feb. 7.

PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop O’Connell visits Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran

The day marked the Bishop’s first visit to the school since it reopened as the new Holy Cross Preparatory Academy last fall. His time in Delran was spent celebrating Mass, interacting with students and faculty, enjoying lunch and catching up with the several priests who had concelebrated the Mass.

In his opening remarks, the Bishop spoke of the “great joy” it was to be present and celebrate Mass for the school community and, in his homily, he reflected on the Readings, emphasizing the gifts of faith and courage of both King David (in the First Reading) and John the Baptist (in the Gospel). Encouraging the students to follow the examples of King David and John the Baptist in their own lives, the Bishop said, “To really believe and commit yourself to what you believe takes courage.

“For us as Catholics, it’s not simply what we believe but who. We place our faith in a person, Jesus Christ,” he said. “The Lord has so much to offer and it takes courage to hang in there like King David, like John the Baptist.”

Another highlight of the morning occurred after the Mass when Bishop O’Connell acknowledged senior Kyle Holler, who will begin studies as a college seminarian in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., in the fall.

“I am very happy that Kyle has chosen to join the priesthood, and I wish him a wonderful education at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary,” the Bishop said.

The opportunity to host Bishop O’Connell brought many smiles to members of the Holy Cross Preparatory Academy community, including Alice Penza, principal.

“I am one happy principal,” said Alice Penza. “I feel blessed to have the Bishop celebrate Mass for our students. It’s a very special day here at Holy Cross Preparatory Academy.”