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Bishop Deeley Makes Special Visit to St. Thomas School

"Oh boy, I think I made this hat a little too big.”

Bishop Robert P. Deeley made the observation, with glue stick and scissors in hand, to the first graders at the arts and craft table as they made elves with construction paper and actual photos of themselves.

“Don’t forget the elf’s hands,” Mrs. Tederous, the first-grade teacher reminded the bishop.

“That’s true,” said the bishop to his tablemates. “He’ll need those to help Santa.”

Joining the first graders in a Christmas project was one of many moments filled with holiday spirit that came during Bishop Deeley’s special visit to the students and staff at St. Thomas School in Sanford on Monday, December 16 (many additional pictures below).

The bishop read seasonally appropriate books Mary’s Baby and Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear to the pre-kindergarten and kindergarteners, respectively, and enjoyed an impromptu art show from the sixth and seventh graders who displayed the beautiful works they had created for a recent art contest.

“The Knights of Columbus organized the contest. It’s called ‘Keep Christ in Christmas,’” said one of the sixth graders. “The idea is to make a poster that sends the message that Christmas is about Jesus Christ.”

The bishop did participate in academic-themed activities, too, including multiplication exercises with the third graders, looking through the fifth graders’ water cycle projects, and observing a reading presentation of “Pine Tree Parable” by the second graders. There was plenty of time for fun as well, including cribbage with the fourth graders.

“I haven’t played this in a long while,” the bishop told one of his competitors. “Take it easy on me.”

The students were excited to tell the bishop about their service projects and classroom initiatives, many helping to educate about the season of giving.

“This is our kind word stocking board,” said one of the second graders. “We made paper stockings and write nice things to each other, putting them in the stockings. We get to read them before Christmas vacation.”

“This is wonderful,” the bishop told the second graders. “We give gifts like this because the presents we open remind us that God loves and cares for us. Jesus is the real gift. He came to teach us how to love one another. One way in which we show that love and respect is by giving presents to each other. When we give and share with each other, presents become signs of love. That’s the true meaning of Christmas: love.”

Bishop Deeley was joined on his tour by Principal Donna Jacques and Fr. Bill Labbe, pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish (Holy Family Church, Sanford; Notre Dame Church, Springvale) and St. Matthew Parish in Limerick.

Along the way, the bishop was treated to performances by the students from the school’s upcoming Christmas concert. In addition to his elf project, Bishop Deeley also received a framed photograph of all the St. Thomas School students in the snow.

The bishop’s school visits will continue this Thursday, December 19, with the celebration of Cheverus High School’s Advent Mass at the school, located on 267 Ocean Avenue in Portland, at 9 a.m.

If you would like to learn about the many ways Maine Catholic schools are making a difference and bearing witness to the love of Christ, visit