Last night we celebrated our Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2015. We have held this Mass for about 30 years at Saint Anselm Abbey Church, perhaps the most beautiful church in Manchester (at least in my opinion). We used to have the Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral but I guess one year some students let off those confetti party poppers and it didn't sit well with some folks there so we changed the venue to Saint Anselm. Thankfully the poppers haven't made a comeback!
The celebrant for our Mass was Bishop Francis Christian, the auxiliary bishop of Manchester (he and Bishop Libasci rotate saying the Baccalaureate Masses for the four Catholic high schools) with Fr. Richard Kelley, the pastor of St. Christopher's Parish in Nashua, con-celebrating. Our chaplain Fr. Richard Dion was also scheduled to be with us but he came down with a terrible cold. The deacon was Deacon Michael Sartori '06. Deacon Michael was ordained a transitional deacon about two weeks ago and we were happy he was able to assist at the Mass.
The celebration began with the procession of the seniors and the faculty and staff and the Mass began shortly thereafter. Taryn Adams '15 proclaimed the first reading, Catrina Sylvia '15 and Margaret Windler '15 sang the psalm, and Deacon Michael read the gospel. Bishop Christian gave a wonderful homily with lots to chew on. I tried to keep track of some of the lines:
"You may be smarter then you were four years ago but are are you wiser?"
"What will you die for? If you don't know then you don't know what to live for."
"Did God owe you to create you? Do your parents owe you? Your teachers?"
"Everything is a gift - when we realized this we are on the road to wisdom."
There was a lot more of course but it was quite good and really gave the students (and all of us really) a lot to consider.
Following the final prayer, Mr. Mailloux '72 congratulated Deacon Michael on his ordination and presented him with a gift on behalf of the school community - commentaries on the gospels by William Barclay. We wanted to give him something "practical" and the books came highly recommended by our former campus minister Fr. Andrew Nelson who said they have bailed him out many a times when trying to come up with a homily.
As is our custom, two students offered reflections after the Mass was over. This year we asked Erin Barry '15 and Nicholas Capobianco '15 to speak on behalf of the Class of 2015. Erin spoke beautifully of joining Trinity at the beginning of her sophomore year and how much her teachers and classmates pushed her and challenged her. She became a highly motivated student as a result but not only for academics but also for service to others. She then spoke of the impact our two missions trips to Montana and Guatemala had on her, especially seeing God in the people she served and how happy the people were despite their difficult circumstances.
Nick spoke about how three coincidences in one day helped him decided to come to Trinity - meeting our admissions director (who was visiting his middle school) on the same day Nick was wearing one of his father's old Trinity sweatshirts and also received a letter in the mail inviting him to our open house. He then talked about some of the people who influenced him over the years and told a very touching story about Mr. Gorski '58, our late beloved English teacher, and how he helped him break a $20 bill one afternoon. Nick pointed out that the Class of 2015 is one of the last classes to know Mr. Gorski and how blest they are to be exposed to his "inspirational integrity." He concluded, "In each frontier we go forth to conquer, we will always be Pioneers."
Following the reflections, the seniors lit candles and the choir sang a beautiful song of blessing over them. They then processed out with their candles symbolizing bringing the light of Christ into the world. It's always a wonderful moment.
Tonight we have our graduation ceremonies, also at Saint Anselm College but this time at the Sullivan Arena (which mercifully has air conditioning!). From there we say goodbye to the Class of 2015 and send them off into the world. Ad multos annos to them all.