12,000 Catholic school students celebrate Mass at U.S. Bank Stadium

MINNEAPOLIS –12,000 fourth through eighth grade students from the 79 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis celebrated the second Mass of the Holy Spirit Wednesday to help kick off the new school year. The event was organized by the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda leads the procession into the Mass of the Holy Spirit at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The event included live music from Twin Cities artists: Christian rock band, Sonar, and Christian rapper, Connor Flanagan. Matt Birk, former Minnesota Viking and NFL Super Bowl Champion, gave opening remarks. Archbishop Hebda was the main celebrant of the Mass. He was joined by more than 70 priests and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens.

“The day’s theme was to put faith in action,” said Melissa Hamilton, CSCOE spokesperson. “We were so excited to hold this beautiful celebration of our faith for our students. Our hope is that the students will take the day’s message of faith in action with them throughout the year, by helping their classmates and teachers, by saying hello to a new student, or by making someone’s day with kindness or a smile.”

The Mass and its theme of putting faith in action was illustrated that day with the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids program. Children attending the Mass brought winter items like hats, gloves and coats for collection by the Knights, who will distribute them along with some new coats throughout Minnesota in the days and weeks ahead. The Knights also distributed new coats to students at St. Peter Claver in St. Paul on Tuesday, October 9, the day before the Archdiocesan Mass.

“A Mass of the Holy Spirit at the start of the school year is a venerable tradition made richer by extending it to the youngest students,” said Marc Peters, State Deputy of the Minnesota Knights of Columbus. “We are happy to couple this prayerful event with our Coats for Kids program and the children’s own donations of winter clothing for their classmates.”

It makes for a true and effective lesson — for all of us — in the joy of charity.”

About Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids: Last winter alone, the Knights distributed 105,192 new coats to children in need in 1,600 communities across North America, including at military bases, in Native-American communities, inner-city neighborhoods and through partnerships with local police and fire departments. Since its start in 2009, nearly 500,000 coats have been distributed by the Knights in 49 states and all 10 Canadian provinces.

About the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE): CSCOE is a nonprofit organization with a two-part mission: to help Catholic elementary schools enhance excellence and to increase student enrollment. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is an opportunity to bring students together to celebrate Catholic school education.