Barb Sieminski
Freelance Writer
June 8, 2018 // Schools

Go forth with faith and hope in God, Bishop Luers grads told

Barb Sieminski
Freelance Writer

08High school students are beginning to travel life’s various journeys, and those graduating from Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne were asked by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in his baccalaureate homily to recognize what a huge step graduation is and to acknowledge all the blessings they had been given thus far.

The theme of journey was illustrated by the Gospel of the Mass, which took place May 25, and told of Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Ain Karem. “When Mary said ‘yes’ to God’s call to become the mother of Jesus, (she) didn’t sit still. She set out in haste to visit Elizabeth,” he said. “She followed the lead of the Holy Spirit and traveled 150 kilometers to help her elderly cousin, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary didn’t shut herself up at home or let herself be paralyzed by fear or pride.” If her cousin needed her help, Mary was ready to aid her.

In a similar way, as graduates, and as they approach the next step of their lives, they should look to help others rather than to settle into their own comfort zones, he told them.

“We celebrate this Baccalaureate Mass, to thank God for the blessings in your lives these past four years at Bishop Luers High School, and to pray for you as you go forth,” said the bishop, emphasizing that everyone is called to go out and live a life of service, forsaking self-absorbance.

“We heard in the Gospel Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat, in which she proclaimed the greatness of the Lord,” he continued. “Mary thanked God for looking upon her lowliness and for the work of salvation that He brought about for His people. She thanked God for the great things that He accomplished in her life. When God touches the hearts of young people, they become capable of doing tremendous things. I see this in so many young people in our diocese, including in our graduates. Graduates, I see the wonderful things you are capable of doing with the help of God’s grace.”

With a nod to their futures, Bishop Rhoades reflected on people who go through life without meaning and purpose.

“Graduates, don’t let your life be a meaningless meandering; instead, go forth with faith and with hope in God … embrace life as an adventure of love and a pilgrimage of faith.”

“Like the young Mary of Nazareth, you can allow your life to become a means for making the world a better place,” he also told them. “As Pope Francis said … ‘Jesus is calling you to leave your mark in life, your mark on history, both your own and that of so many others.’”

Margaret Cicchiello, the daughter of Catherine and James Cicchiello, was the valedictorian for the Bishop Luers High School Class of 2018. A member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Fort Wayne, Margaret attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School.

The graduate was deeply thankful to her parents and teachers for their encouragement from the beginning of her life through her graduation. She said she revered her Catholic upbringing and schooling, and tossed kudos to Marilyn Fech, sophomore theology teacher, and Nichole Wellman, cross-country coach.

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was given to me by my mom,” recalled Cicchiello during her address. “She said, ‘You have to learn to laugh at yourself.’”

An avid reader, Cicchiello designated “Little Women” as her most impactful book. “I have read and reread many times, because it is a beautiful story about a family of strong women who defied some of the societal standards of the time. It impacts me because there are moments of apprehensiveness, frustration, patience and compassion that I understand. I can also relate to the mistakes and decisions that the women make as they are helped by their sisters and guided by their wonderful parents.”

Bishop Luers High School students speak with Bishop Rhoades after a baccalaureate Mass May 25 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne. — Provided by Bishop Luers High School

“My philosophy of life is that we have to trust that we are in the right place at the right time and that our work is important,” concluded Cicchiello. “We need to work to remain balanced and become better by continually raising our standards and accepting help from the people around us.”

Adam Veldman, the son of Laura and Paul Veldman of Fort Wayne, was the salutatorian for the Bishop Luers High School Class of 2018. He is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish and attended St. John the Baptist School for elementary and middle school.

Not only did Veldman choose to attend Bishop Luers High School because his friends went there, but more importantly because of the strong “family feeling” of the school community and because he always had good role models throughout his school years, he said.

He told his classmates that the words that have guided him through life are the Golden Rule, and to “Be kind and courteous to everyone you talk to, and they will do the same.”

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