The St. Joseph’s Academy community came together on May 5 to celebrate Senior Mass for the class of 2023. The celebrant was Father Mathew Dunn, parochial vicar for Christ the King Parish and SJA’s school chaplain. Mass was held in the Academy Student Center.
Senior Shobe Manuel welcomed the large gathering, which included the parents and family members of SJA seniors. “We gather as members of God’s family with hearts full of gratitude and mindful of the mighty works of God given to us by his son, Jesus Christ,” she said.
Senior Claire Waggenspack read from the book of Ecclesiastes. Senior Avery Bruce offered the prayers of the faithful.
In his homily, Father Matt implored the soon-to-be-graduates to stay rooted in the heart of Jesus Christ. He said to avoid the temptation of rushing into situations and to live in the moment. “Be joyful you had the opportunity of these four years,” he said. “They are at their end, but what doesn’t end is the sanctity and joy that you learned here. What begins is the action as you go out to set the world on fire with the good news of the Lord.”
At the conclusion of mass, Senior Class President Caitlyn Rogers said that from the moment she stepped foot onto SJA’s campus, it felt like home. She said the class of 2023 has grown as a community in four short years. “I’m so excited to see all your accomplishments once we graduate because I know without a doubt all of us are going to be so extremely successful,” she said. “Our class is honestly amazing. I’ve never met such a devout and driven group of girls. Each of your accomplishments motivates me to do better and work harder in my own life.”
She said that she will always cherish the memories, laughs, hugs and tears shared with her classmates. “I know it may sound cliché, but every girl sitting in front of me has made some sort of impact on my life,” she said. “You’re supposed to meet people in your life, and you don’t really remember what they did, but you do remember how they made you feel. I have personally felt so much love and support from all of you.”
Rogers announced that the senior class gift is a monetary contribution towards the beautification and repurposing of the area between Medaille Hall and the Activity Center.
Principal Stacia Andricain said she was proud of the members of the senior class, who overcame the challenges posed by COVID during their early high school years with grace. She said her hope is that the class of 2023 felt cared for and supported by the faculty and staff. “I am proud of the young women SJA will be sending forth to be unifying members of the world community,” she said. “We will pray for you along with our more than 11,000 alums each Wednesday morning. May you continue to be patient, kind and, always, women for others.
“I ask that you, in turn, continue to pray for St. Joseph’s Academy and for the amazing men and women who worked so hard to educate you and teach you life skills,” Andricain added. “You will always be a sacred thread in the history of SJA. Remember the lessons we taught you, follow Christ in all things and treat others in a Christian manner even if you don’t see eye to eye. Continue to serve the dear neighbor and always lift up your voices.”
Senior Susana Shields led the singing of the Alma Mater.
Danielle Laird and Steve Galliano directed the choir. Serving as cantors were seniors Mary Jo Dardis and Maria Hargrave. Seniors Elena Kelly and Katie Rabalais led the senior tribute song, accompanied by senior Izzy Gruner on the keyboard. Also accompanying the choir were Aimee Urdiales, Gruner and Laird, piano; Alan LeCoq, drums; and Hugo Andricain, guitar.
Custodial staff member Donald Spann sang a solo with the choir at offertory.
Following mass, the SJA Mothers’ Club hosted a reception for seniors and their parents in the Fife Student Commons. Committee chair was Tracey McMains. Co-chairs were Sarah Fautheree and Betsy Ewing.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Meghan McGinty and Sara Rounds