Jesus Wants to Be Your Friend, Bishop Whalen Tells St. Theresa Students

| 10/18/2023

By: Steven Schwankert

The Archdiocese of New York Auxiliary Bishop and Superintendent of Schools Mary Grace Walsh visited the Pelham Bay school on Wednesday

Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen (right) and Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, visit with prekindergarten students of St. Theresa School in the Bronx, October 17, 2023.
Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen (right) and Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, visit with prekindergarten students of St. Theresa School in the Bronx, October 17, 2023. Photo by Steven Schwankert/The Good Newsroom

Archdiocese of New York Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen asked students to let Jesus be their friend during a Mass at St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus and visit neighboring St. Theresa School in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx on Wednesday, October 18.

“Not only do I pray for you but I am grateful to God for the opportunity to be with you because St. Theresa’s is such a great school and a wonderful community of people who let their faith and their friendship in Jesus come alive,” said Bishop Whalen in his opening remarks at a Mass for the school’s students, faculty, and parents. He offered both greetings and regrets from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who could not visit due to being called to serve at the Synod in Rome.

Friendship with Jesus was a theme for Bishop Whalen’s remarks during his homily. He asked the students to do three things: “Tell Jesus what it means to you to be able to go to St. Theresa School”; and “Tell Jesus about someone at St. Theresa who shows you Jesus in your life”; and “Ask Jesus to help you be that person for someone else.”

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Whalen were the pastor of St. Theresa Monsignor Thomas Derivan; former Pastor Father Robert Grippo; Father Richard Morano, a former St. Theresa altar boy who graduated from St. Theresa in 1993; and Father Louis Masi, also a St. Theresa alumnus, who was ordained by Cardinal Dolan in 2018.

Following the Mass, Bishop Whalen toured the school. Joining Bishop Whalen for the visit was Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D, the Archdiocese of New York’s superintendent of schools, making her first official visit to St. Theresa in her current role.

Bishop Whalen is no stranger to the classroom. He formerly served as principal of Monsignor Farrell High School for six years, also teaching religion and foreign language. In January 2019, he was named as the vicar for clergy for the archdiocese by Cardinal Dolan.

Josephine Fanelli, who has served as the principal of St. Theresa for 17 years, said that the ongoing support of the neighborhood and the community have helped it to thrive for almost a half-century. The school “[creates] good citizens, teaching them morals and values every single day,” she said.

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