Bishop Robert P. Deeley sings with students at St. James School on Friday, Jan. 10. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — Bishop Robert P. Deeley toured “the world,” or a good part of it, on Friday through the eyes of students from prekindergarten through grade eight at St. James School in Biddeford.

He went on a religious and cultural tour of France, Ireland and Canada; as well as the Philippines, Ghana, South Korea, Zambia, India, Ethiopia, Italy and Brazil, and heard about what students at the school have been learning all year.

Each time he entered a classroom, a student would affix a new stamp to the “passport” they had created just for him.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley shows off his ‘passport,’ made by students at St. James School in Biddeford. Deeley visited on Friday, Jan. 10 taking a “world tour,” hearing what students had learned about 10 countries and getting his passport stamped at each one. Tammy Wells Photo

At the Philippines exhibit, he sampled a home baked pastry and took a quiz created by the grade eight students, scoring 100 percent. Then he asked questions of the students about their school experience at St. James.

“I like it because the school is small,” said one student. That, other students said, means classmates quickly become friends.

St. James School has 158 students.


On the ‘tour” in Canada, students told the bishop that St. Joseph is that country’s patron saint and that hockey and lacrosse are popular games.

In Ireland, a country dear to his heart — Deeley’s family hails from Eire — he was given a loaf of soda bread by Sydney Googins, who has family roots in Ireland.

“I looked up a recipe and made the bread,” she said.

“We have a student with connections to each of these countries,” said Principal Nancy Naimey.

The Jan. 10 morning he spent at St. James was the latest in Bishop Deeley’s visits to Catholic schools in the state. This academic year, the bishop has visited Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn, Holy Cross School in South Portland, All Saints School in Bangor, Mount Merici Academy in Waterville, St. Michael School in Augusta, St. Thomas School in Sanford, and Cheverus High School in Portland.

If you visit another country, like Bishop Robert P. Deeley did on Friday when he stopped by St. James School, one of the first things that happens is that your “passport” is stamped. Students from PreK through grade eight each explained to the bishop what they’d learned about a country they’d been studying. Tammy Wells Photo

In the coming weeks, the bishop is scheduled to visit Saint Dominic Academy’s Lewiston campus, St. Brigid School in Portland, and St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick.

He was accompanied on the St. James visit by Maine Catholic Schools Superintendent Marianne Pelletier.

The morning’s visit began with a prayer service, set in France, where there were some readings in French, and the “Our Father” prayer was said in the French language.

“Catholic education forms our young students as people of spirit and mind, of faith and knowledge,” said Bishop Deeley. “It gives them an intellectual preparation for life, and a spiritual grounding for dealing with life. It also gives them a moral compass by which to guide their lives. These are beautiful places, moving our students ahead to live full lives in our world.”

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