RUMFORD — The slopes of Black Mountain were a winter playground Friday for Bishop Robert Deeley and students of Holy Savior Catholic school.

“I ski because if you get on top of the snow, it can’t get on top of you,” Deeley said.

As part of National Catholic Schools Week, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland visited Catholic schools around the state.

“The whole point of Catholic schools is body, mind and spirit,” he said. “We take the whole person and nurture everything that is the child.” 

On Monday, he met with students of St. James School in Biddeford. On Wednesday, he was in Waterville for a Mass with students from Mount Merici Academy.

On Friday, he talked to Holy Savior’s middle school students about the service projects they’ve been doing at the Muskie Center in Rumford where they assist disabled adults.

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“One kid said how before, he thought that mentally disabled people were different, but after spending some time with them, realized they’re just like everyone else. It was extraordinary,” Deeley said.

Deeley had promised the students last year that he’d spend the day on the slopes with them because they all enjoy skiing.

Principal Barbara Pelletier said that of the 50 students at Holy Savior, most had season passes to Black Mountain. Students could also go tubing.

“I’ve been skiing since 1974,” Deeley said. “If you live in New England, especially on a day like today, what could be more beautiful? It gives me a nice chance to talk to the kids about nature as God’s gift to us, and talk to them about themselves in nature.”

When the bishop walked into the lodge, sixth-grader Virginia Owings asked him if he wanted to ski with her.

“He’s the bishop!” Owings said. “I don’t really get to see him that often, so this is really cool to get to know him.” She rode the chairlift with the bishop and Holy Savior parish priest Nathan March.

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Carson Redman, a fifth-grader, was excited to be outside. His mother, Lisa, was happy about the weather and the ski conditions.

“Other years they haven’t had snow or the weather was bad, so we had to cancel, but today is just perfect,” she said.

Before the students got on the ski lifts, they held up a banner that read, “Holy Savior loves Black Mountain,” and shouted that everything they do is for the glory of God.

“Especially skiing,” the bishop shouted back.

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