June 4, 2024 // Bishop

Marian, Saint Joseph Graduates Mark ‘Last Mass Together’

As the month of May came to a close, so, too, did the high school careers for the graduating seniors at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend and Marian High School in Mishawaka. The classes of 2024 marked their final week together with separate baccalaureate Masses, each celebrated by Bishop Rhoades, and each held at St. Pius X Church in Granger – Marian’s on Thursday, May 30, and Saint Joseph’s on Friday, May 31.

More than 150 Marian High School seniors participated in what Bishop Rhoades noted was their “last Mass together as a class.” In his homily, Bishop Rhoades referenced the Gospel reading from Matthew on building one’s house on rock.

Saint Joseph students process into St. Pius X for their baccalaureate Mass.

“You will all be building a house: the house of your life,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The most important thing in the construction process is building a strong foundation, and that’s what a Catholic education is meant to teach.”

He exhorted the seniors to continue building their lives on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, “basing all our desires, aspirations, dreams, ambitions, and plans on His will. And this is the foundation of authentic humanity.”

Bishop Rhoades noted that it may be easier to build a house on sand, which he characterized as prioritizing such things as fame, money, power, and secular culture. “However we build our house, whether on rock or on sand, we won’t be spared the storms in our lives,” Bishop Rhoades said, adding, “Our lives won’t collapse if we build our lives on the Lord and His Gospel.”

Bishop Rhoades also thanked everyone involved in the education of the seniors: school chaplains, teachers, staff, and in a special way, parents. “Your first school is your family,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Kasia Balsbaugh
Marian High School seniors listen to Bishop Kevin Rhoades’ homily during their baccalaureate Mass.

Marian High School’s principal Mark Freund also recognized the parents and grandparents whose children and grandchildren had gone on to attend Marian High School. And Bishop Rhoades recognized a special Marian High School graduate who was helping to serve Mass that day: Monsignor Michael Heintz, who will assume pastorship of St. Pius X Parish this summer. Bishop Rhoades mentioned how many of the diocese’s seminarians like Monsignor Heintz have come from Marian High School. He said, jokingly, “Guys, any of you who are thinking about it, I’ll be in the courtyard after,” adding that young women could talk to the religious sisters in attendance as well.

Holy Cross Father Cameron Cortens, Parochial Vicar at Christ the King Parish in South Bend, serves Marian High School as one of two chaplains. During his once-a-week visits, Father Cortens hears confessions, celebrates Mass, and helps with sacramental preparations and occasional retreats. Of the baccalaureate Mass, Father Cortens said, “I think it’s only fitting to end the high school careers of the graduates this way, given that the whole of the mission of Marian High and its vision stems from the Eucharist, stems from the love Christ offers.”

The next day, also at St. Pius X Church, Bishop Rhoades celebrated the baccalaureate Mass for the graduates of Saint Joseph High School on the feast of the Visitation, and he urged the students to “think of the joy of Elizabeth when Mary visited her, a joy that even extended to her unborn infant son, John the Baptist, who, as the Gospel tells us, leaped for joy in his mother’s womb.” Bishop Rhoades asked, “Isn’t this our joy as Christians? Joy in the truth that God has visited us, that He became flesh and dwelt among us, suffered and died out of love for us, and promises us a share in His resurrection!”

Bishop Rhoades stressed to the graduates that Mary’s “yes” should serve as inspiration to all Christians, noting that “if our faith is genuine, if our ‘yes’ to God is authentic, then it is manifest in charity. You have learned that at Saint Joe’s through the many acts of service you have done as part of your Christian education.”

“You’ve gained a lot of knowledge in high school,” Bishop Rhoades continued, adding that “love must direct our knowledge: love of God and love of others – in particular, the weak, the poor, the sick, the unborn, the immigrant, and the refugee. The formation you have received at Saint Joe’s hopefully has enabled you to see that knowledge is not enough, that virtue, especially the greatest virtue, love, is necessary and leads to true human fulfillment.”

Scott Warden contributed to this story.

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