Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory celebrated an Oct. 19, 2020 Mass at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, offering prayers for the high school’s new president and CEO, and telling students and faculty that God must be at the center of their plans for the future.

Referring to the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 12:13-21 – the parable of a rich fool who “stores up things … but is not rich toward God” – the archbishop told those at the Mass that “unless God is in your plans, the future is not as secure as you probably think or hope it would be."

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at the Mass was limited to representatives of the student body and faculty. The liturgy was streamed via the Internet. Four candles at the altar lit representing McNamara’s Classes of 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024.

“No matter how hard we work, no matter how carefully we plan, no matter how generous our desire to do the right thing is, if we do not include God, things will not go right,” Archbishop Gregory said. “Your plans for college, plans for academic year, plans for your family, no matter what your plans may be, God must be at the center.”

He added that “your future would be secure and blessed when it involves God.”

During the Mass, Archbishop Gregory called the coeducational high school sponsored by the Holy Cross Brothers “a wonderful learning community,” and thanked “those people who work quietly and generously behind the scenes.”

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Gregory bestowed a blessing on Dr. John Barnhardt, Bishop McNamara’s newly installed president and chief executive officer.

Dr. John Barnhardt, the new president and chief executive officer at Bishop McNamara High School, speaks during the Oct. 19 Mass Archbishop Wilton Gregory celebrated at the school. (Screen capture)

A native of Wisconsin and a former firefighter, Dr. Barnhardt assumed his post in June. He earned a master’s degree in teaching from American University and a doctorate in educational leadership the University of Pennsylvania.   

Prior to joining McNamara, he was the director of school design for a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group that oversees 19 schools in the metropolitan area. He succeeds Marco Clark, who now serves as executive director of the Holy Cross institute at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

“May he (Dr. Barnhardt) be anchored in goodness and piety dedicated to advancing the school’s mission to educate hearts and minds,” Archbishop Gregory prayed. “May he be through his words and actions an ambassador of Christ to all who come to this school.”

Calling it a “privilege to stand before you today and represent Bishop McNamara and the Brothers of the Holy Cross,” Dr. Barnhardt noted that “the work of educating in a virtual world …is exhausting work. We are blessed to have tremendous educators giving their all in the work of Christ.”