Senior Banquet was last Wednesday. The faculty song was seriously upgraded this year because Dan Arnold, father of some alumni and a graduating senior, agreed to write and direct the production. As I understand, the only rehearsal was at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the All Saints gym just before the banquet. But Mr. Arnold got everyone to sing on tune or sing real quietly, and the singing of the song has been heralded as one of the faculty’s finest moments. The lyrics follow and then after them is the speech. It received an upgrade this year as well, since a major chunk of it was written by Marcus Daly who is a great story teller.
“Getting to Know You” lyrics by Dan Arnold. Directed by Dan Arnold for the Senior Banquet Class of ’13.
Verse: (Speaking) It seems like you were sevvies Last week or just last year, and the idea that you’d leave Seton was just a distant fear. (Singing) But now that it’s upon us We’d like to raise a toast And share without exception The thing that we’ll miss most
1a Getting to know you, over the years here at Seton How do we show you, what an immense joy it’s been? Of all the senior classes that came before you, We can assure you, There’s none like you.
1b Remember kneeling on the gym floor for hours Or that old feeling of jitters before hamlet night Isn’t it funny, how all of it went by so quickly And now we’ll all just have to make do Without getting to see you day by day.
2a All of the lessons, taught to you by Mrs. Carroll Never forget them, no matter where you may go. So if you’re writing papers for college courses, Cite all your sources, Quite thoroughly.
2b Pro-Life speeches and running for our kids in Haiti; White out basketball games and cheers, We’re gonna miss you, and no one could ever quite replace you, And so we’ll all just have to make do. But hope you’ll be coming back here soon, day by day.
Senior Banquet Take II 2013
Seniors, Class of Apostrophe 13, Parents of Apostrophe 13 Seniors, Juniors of Apostrophe 14, and all other honored guests:
Apostrophes often take the place of something, a sort of abbreviation. In our salutatory example, the apostrophe takes the place of 2000 years, and in the case of you seniors, zeroes us in on the year within the third millennium A.D. when you young men and women will be graduating from high school. Your senior year has spanned an interesting and maybe even an historically significant time. August 2012 to May 2013 has held much, much of it disappointing, disconcerting and degrading. We only have to think of what occurred this past November to realize the capstone of disappointment, disconcert and degradation. Yes, it is November we remember with heavy hearts….. for it was in November that the ovens of Hostess went cold. That icon of American business and provider of sound nourishment options such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Zingers and Hostess Fruit Pies is no more. We might try to lessen the blow by reaching for a Little Debbie treat, but really, nothing can replace those creamed filled sponge cake plastic wrapped mouth watering confections of bakery wizardry.
But at this banquet we will accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. We will set aside the bad and concentrate on the good, as hard as it is to forget even for a moment that those Hostess Gems – the little coconut topped doughnuts — are no longer on our favorite grocery store shelf.
The positive that we will accentuate is one that is more fulfilling than a Hostess Snowball or Chocolate Cupcake. It is this: for most of your senior year, we have been celebrating within the New Evangelization, the Year of Faith, so proclaimed by our Holy Opa, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
It has been a year in which we have tried to form a greater solidarity with each Person of the Blessed Trinity; have tried to walk with Our Savior more in friendship and in gratitude; have tried to turn prayer from a dry, obligatory religious function, into a time of real conversation with the One who loves us completely; and have tried to adore He who is transcendently adorable.
We do all this in the midst of an age of apostasy. So many no longer practice the Faith, and we can only think that it is because they never truly knew the love of Jesus. What can there be that could possibly attract us as an alternative to that love. What can there be that can possibly be a substitute for Truth and Goodness? How can this world make sense, how can suffering be understood, how can love be known fully apart from God and His Church? Shadows instead of Light, that is the best the world has to offer.
In an age of shadows, a time of confusion and disbelief, there is always, and even more abundantly, the Grace of God: the miracle of the Grace of God at work. Let me tell you a story that was told to me by Marcus Daly, nephew of Father Jerome Daly. It is a story that took place before the Year of Faith, but it shows exactly what the Year of Faith and New Evangelization is all about. Here is the story Marcus told.
Kelly, my wife, and I met landscaping in Seattle. The man we worked for was known as a sort of artistic genius in the Seattle
landscaping scene. I worked there first, then Kelly, and then, a few months later, a 22 year-old
Bowdoin College grad, Collin Medeiros by name. He was
funny, smart, kind, strong and hardworking. We all had a great time
working together with lots of laughs but also interesting conversations
amidst the dirty, wet, chill of winter landscaping in the Pacific
Northwest. Life moved on and we went our separate ways. Kelly and I
married and moved out to Vashon Island off the coast of Washington State and we did not hear from Collin for
years. Through the grapevine, I learned that Collin had a girlfriend and
had a child. I was saddened and burdened because now, with my own more intense desire to serve God, I knew that my example had not conveyed to Collin the liberty and joy of living what is often called the straight and narrow. I really
wanted to talk to Collin and see how he was doing and try to show the depth of
our Faith more fully than he'd seen me fumbling with years before. By
that time, Kelly was Catholic and through seeing her conversion, I had confidence that there were
bigger forces in play than my meager efforts.
Well, soon thereafter, out of the blue, Collin called and said he'd just
bought a house on Vashon and that he and his "partner" were
moving to the island. We started landscaping together and I, awkwardly, tried to
speak plainly about Jesus Christ. He simplified things because he was so
starved for the truth. One of the moments that stands out most
clearly was when, in the course of a conversation, he asked "what,
exactly, is conscience?" I told him I'd come back the next day with the
best answer I could and went home and xeroxed a page or two from the
Catechism. His reaction to me reading those words was
"are you telling me there's a whole book like this!?!?!"
Needless to say, when I gave him that whole book, he was on the fast
track. The absence of God in his life, and then the love of God realized in his life was one of the sharpest images of
Jesus I've ever encountered. His partner, however, was less than
Rebecca, pregnant with their second child (against their very poorly
formed wills, and against the odds), thought she was moving to cool,
hippy farming island, with cool, Reggae listening Nature Boy. (Vashon Island is the place to go for those who find Seattle too conservative.) and now her once “with it” significant other was becoming a Christian Zealot! Collin is
not the kind of person who compartmentalizes his enthusiasm – he was all in all the way.
Rebecca told me the only Catholics she knew before meeting me were
people who "self-identified as Recovering Catholics."
Their relationship underwent serious strain. This reached its peak when Collin's Catechism was thrown out their kitchen window. But
Rebecca, besides having a strong throwing arm, is honest and sincere. So she asked a
couple of her "recovering Catholic" friends to tell her about the hidden
horror of growing up Catholic. They reflected, and came up empty. In
fact, come to think of it, they really liked growing up Catholic…
Collin came into the Church.
Rebecca, who had majored in sociology at a private New England College,
wrestled with the Church's claims to the truth and particularly its
stance on sexual morality which she had theretofore only seen as
hateful, misogynistic, and repressive. But she and Collin wanted the
best for their family, so they set out on a quest to figure out "what,
exactly, is marriage?"
Along the way, Rebecca read Mulieres Dignitatem by Bl. JPII. She commented, "of everything
I've read about women, this is the most beautiful."
They got married in the Church.
They had their son and daughter baptized in the Church.
Rebecca came into the Church.
And, they are now anchors in our little Catholic homeschooling
Community on hip Vashon Island, awaiting the birth of their fifth child this spring. To get
to witness something like that unfold was an incredible, undeserved,
blessing for me. That I played a part in it is proof positive of God's
incredible, non-cost-counting generosity and the miracle of His grace.
Seniors, many of you will be going off to typical colleges which are infamous for sucking the faith out of an undergrad, and all of us will continue to live in space that has for decades been encroached upon by secularism and hedonism. Collin and Rebecca’s conversion stories show us that it is not always some deep theological topic that can help someone along the way to the truth. In this story for Colin it was a question about conscience – a question about the nature of man. And Rebecca’s questions – about elementary morality – again are ones which can be answered simply with an understanding of the natural law and showing that the good and the beautiful is in sharp contrast with their subhuman opposites. And then there was the couple’s question about marriage, which was another fundamental question about man and society. All these are things that could easily come up or be brought up in a conversation. Basic questions, which need basic answers. And I think the way that Marcus went about answering the question on conscience is significant too. He didn’t try to come off as a know it all – he took the question and found the information and delivered the answer.
Seniors, Apostrophe thirteeners, there was something else that happened this past November which may have been overshadowed by Hostess turning off its ovens. About two months into your senior year the citizens of the United States of America by majority vote re-elected the President to a new term in office. This is a President who took the teachings of the Church and ground them into the dirt with his HHS mandate; this is the President who has filled high positions, from vice-president to secretary of state to supreme court judge with unfaithful Catholics. This is the President who decides which lives are worthy and which aren’t. This is the President…..Wait!
Sorry, accentuate the positive!
So let’s leave November behind and go to March, two months before the end of your senior year, when there was another election. This one took place without PG-13 or R or even X rated commercials that were approved by a candidate; this is one that took place without a majority vote of those interested in the outcome, this took place, not in a curtained booth or behind a touch screen – it took place in a chapel with paintings of the creation of man and the Last Judgment surrounding the electors.
And so we have Pope Francis who has said that authentic power is found in service which culminates on the cross. He spoke about the powers that we all have – saying that we must be protectors. Two of these powers are especially striking. Pope Francis said that we must be protectors of self and protectors of Christ. That is, we have to control the powers of our free will, passions, intellect. We have to be Our Lord’s voice in the public square and open our hearts to His Holy Will. We have to care for those Christ most identifies Himself with – among them the hungry, thirsty, the naked. If we do so authentically, we will ultimately find ourselves on the cross.
Senior: I now speak to each of you individually. Here’s what I want you to remember. Forget the apostrophes we’ve talked about. Those apostrophes take the place of something, but there is no apostrophe for you. So when it comes time to act, to speak, to witness to the Collins and Rebeccas that you will meet in your life, don’t be looking around for an apostrophe. God has chosen you, willfully and intelligently, so there is no one else to take your place. Exercise that authentic power, serve, and ultimately bear the cross. Then you are God’s. That’s capital G-o-d apostrophe s. This apostrophe doesn’t take the place of something, this apostrophe shows possession. You belong to Another .
And more amazingly than your belonging to God, is that God belongs to you. This is what Pope Francis declares in saying that you are a protector of Christ. And it is what Mother Seton teaches us in her writings after she received her First Holy Communion. She said, “At last God is mine and I am His.” That’s real power. It is the power that can change a culture one Colin and one Rebecca at a time.
God bless our Pope. God bless our Seton Seniors.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.