Singing the entrance hymn “Lift High the Cross,” the students, faculty, and parents of Holy Cross School and Parish in Garrett Park, Maryland, celebrated with Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory their patronal feast day, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a day early on Sept. 13. 

Welcomed by the pastor Father Robert Buchmeier, Archbishop Gregory noted how the community had worthily gathered to exalt the cross. 

“Holy Cross couldn’t lift the cross any higher than it is right here,” he said. “But it is an important reminder that the name of this parish is also a great mystery that we celebrate today.” 

The mystery of the cross is bound up in the mystery of love and sacrifice, he said, because Jesus, in the ultimate sacrifice, embraced the cross for the love of all humanity. 

“The church that gathers under the title of Holy Cross is constantly reminded, by looking at the cross, we understand just how much Jesus loves us,” Archbishop Gregory said. 

He encouraged the community to lift the cross high “not just today, but every day.” 

During a brief tour of the school after Mass, the archbishop stopped in to see “the best looking first grade I’ve seen in a long time,” and sang “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” with pre-kindergarten students. 

“The time I spend with our youngsters is the best time spent in my service,” he said. 

The archbishop’s next stop was less than a mile away at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, where he greeted some of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and celebrated Mass. The academy was celebrating Holy Cross Day, an annual commemoration to honor the feast day. 

“We’re a day early, but better early than late,” the archbishop said. 

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory spoke again of the measure of love. 

“When you were young, you tried to quantify love” through drawing pictures for one’s parents for example, Archbishop Gregory told the women of the academy. 

But Christ quantifies love in a manner surpassing imagination, the archbishop said, as he “opens his arms on the cross and says, ‘I love you this much.’”

“How fortunate we are to be loved that completely,” he said.

In gratitude for Archbishop Gregory’s service and leadership, the students presented a spiritual bouquet from the community, as well as a donation in his name to Catholic Charities for Hurricane Dorian relief.