Andrew Mentock
Freelance Writer
June 8, 2018 // Schools

Saint Joseph ends year with reminders to show God’s love

Andrew Mentock
Freelance Writer

On the floor of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion, soon-to-be graduates of Saint Joseph High School sat in foldable chairs wearing Columbia blue caps and gowns on June 4. This was a similar sight to the day before, when they wore the same outfits while attending a baccalaureate Mass at St. Pius X Church in Granger.

The highlight of the baccalaureate Mass was Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ homily, in which he spoke of one of his childhood idols.

“This week I’ve been thinking of one of my heroes when I was a young boy – he was assassinated 50 years ago this coming Wednesday – Sen. Bobby Kennedy,” Bishop Rhoades said. “As you may know, he was a devout Catholic. He was killed while campaigning for the presidency, following in the footsteps of his brother, who was assassinated five years earlier. Bobby Kennedy’s campaign slogan, based on a quote of George Bernard Shaw, was this: ‘Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’; I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’’’

He pointed out that Bobby Kennedy fought for social causes such as equal rights, thanks to his faith.

Saint Joseph High School graduates file into St. Pius X Church, Granger, for a baccalaureate Mass June 3. — Emily Mentock

“Graduates, as you go forth, I pray you will be faithful to Mass, that you will receive the holy Eucharist often,” the bishop said. “It is nourishment for our souls. The Eucharist educates us in love. To live a eucharistic life is to love as Christ loved, to be sensitive to the needs of others and to be generous to the poor and needy. To live in holy communion with Jesus opens our eyes to others and prevents us from being concerned only about our own pleasures and comfort.”

The next day at graduation, speaker and Saint Joseph theology teacher Tom Kostielney, echoed some of those same thoughts; especially the idea that the graduates should live for others and not themselves.

“A lot of people will tell you that you should really focus on having fun these next few years, that you should focus on your enjoyment,” said Kostielney. “Yes, find joy over the next few years, but you should always do that — over these next few years and well beyond. But I challenge you, don’t spend this time focusing on what you can get out of it. This world doesn’t need any more people focused on themselves, always worried about what they are getting out of an experience, how this will impress others, how that will bring more pleasure. This world needs more men and women who live for others, who get their joy in reminding everyone that they meet of God’s love.”

When the students spoke, they too spoke about compassion for one another; but rather than focusing on how they can show love and support in the future, they let everyone know that Saint Joseph High School values have helped them to do it all along.

“At Saint Joseph High School, we are taught to be thoughtful, selfless, passionate, and loving,” read co-salutatorian Martin Kennedy, in a shared speech with Meagan Luck. “We show thoughtfulness in small acts of kindness around our school: a hello and a smile in the hallways, holding hands together during the Our Father at school Mass. We experience selflessness as hundreds of students participate in Work for Saint Joe and Joy of Saint Joe, giving our time for others in our community. We voice passion in the participation of many of us in the Walkout against Gun Violence and prayer for victims of violence every day.”

The 2018 valedictorian tied both the past and the future together.

“Graduates, what we have been given is a gift, and we must decide what to do with it,” said Anna Staud. “We must recognize that, as Ecclesiastes reads, “there is a time for everything…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” As we prepare to go off into the wide world, or maybe just down the street, there will be goodbyes but there will also be new hellos. We must strive to find a balance between the past and the future, cherishing every moment.”

At the end of the ceremony everyone in attendance honored Susan Richter, the longtime Saint Joseph High School principal who retired from administration at the end of the school year, with a standing ovation, which Richter acknowledged by tearfully waving to the crowd.

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