Parish offices dedicated and blessed

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Gathered in faith and prayer, the faithful of St. Peter the Apostle Parish celebrated the dedication and blessing of the new Parish offices with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration in Naples on June 21.

The celebration was a culmination of a nearly 10 years plan to upgrade the Parish facilities and this project coincided with an urgent need because of damage from 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the dedication and blessing offering prayers of thanksgiving that this project has come to fruition. The celebration reflected the cultural diversity of the Naples Parish with the readings, petitions and music in three languages: English, Spanish and Creole.

The new offices are adjacent to the Spirit Center, which was dedicated by Bishop Dewane in March 2018. The offices are 4,095 square feet with a bright reception area and meeting room at the center of the building, replacing an original building that was constructed in 1986.

Bishop Dewane and Father Gerard “G” Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, made the first official cut of the ribbon. The other priests, deacons and members of the building committee also cut and then received small commemorative pieces of ribbon.

As part of the dedication and blessing, Bishop Dewane proceeded through the new offices and blessed them with holy water. This was an important moment for the Parish and the staff and volunteers as many spend most of their waking hours in the offices and important business is done there. A blessing is also an important way to bring faith and protection to the office.

Father Critch thanked everyone for their sacrifice to make the new offices possible. The offices are a culmination of a lengthy effort by the Parish starting with the expansion of the parking lot, the new Spirit Center, the offices and more. The project was the result of small increments making an impossible dream, possible.

“Now we can take a breather and enjoy what we have accomplished,” Father said.

After the dedication and blessing, tours of the new offices were offered to the delight of the faithful and a potluck celebration followed in the Spirit Center.

Pastor installed at Lake Placid Parish

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

6/18/19

There are moments in the life of each Parish that are well remembered: the dedication of a new building, significant anniversaries, and of course, the installation of a new Pastor.

For the faithful of St. James Parish in Lake Placid, such a day occurred June 2, the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, when Father Vincent Clemente was installed as Pastor by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

The Ascension was an appropriate time to install and Pastor, because it was when Jesus commissioned the Apostles to go out into the world and spread the Gospel. The Church, in creating its structure, has established Parishes to help orchestrate that effort. The leader of a Parish is appropriately a Pastor who will give the impetus to the faithful to go forward out into the world to live the Gospel by spreading the Good News through their words and actions.

Bishop Dewane encouraged the faithful to offer advice to their new Pastor but also know that he will be called to make difficult decisions that not everyone will appreciate. “He needs your support through prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let the decisions that are to be made become a part of who you become as a Parish community.”

During the installation, the priest begins with selected words leading to the start of the Creed when he is then joined by the faithful. At the end of the Creed, the new Pastor has extra lines which are exclusive for him. In addition, the Pastor makes an Oath of Fidelity to the Bishop and his successors; formalized by his placing his hand upon the Book of Gospels.

Following the installation, two members of the parish, representing the entire congregation, served as witnesses and signed the formal documents, copies of which are left at the Parish, placed in the Diocesan archives and in the personnel file of Father Clemente. Bishop then introduced the new Pastor to a rousing applause.

Father Clemente thanked Bishop Dewane for his appointment and commented on how hospitable the Parish community has been since the day he was first assigned.

After the installation, a reception was held in the Parish Hall.

Coseglia Scholarships awarded

Staff Report

6/18/19

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida awarded four outstanding Diocese of Venice Catholic high school graduates with the 2019 Frank & Florence Coseglia Scholarship. The winners were recognized for their academic standing, service to their Parish and school, as well as an essay on what their Catholic Education has meant to them.

The scholarship recipients are Samuel Berjarano of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers; Scholastica Egwakhide of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples; Christopher Twargoski of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota; and Olivia Burke of Donahue Academy in Ave Maria.

The Catholic Community Foundation Coseglia Scholarship was established in 2012 to fulfill the dreams of Frank and Florence Coseglia. The Coseglias wanted to provide financial support to deserving Catholic high school graduates pursuing degrees at accredited colleges or universities, and they wanted that financial support to last far beyond their lifetimes. For these reasons, the Coseglias chose to create a Catholic Legacy by establishing an endowed scholarship fund with the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida.

The winners were nominated by their high schools and approved by the Catholic Community Foundation Board of Directors. Each will receive a one-time scholarship of $1,117 toward the cost of their college/university studies. This is the eighth year the Catholic Community Foundation Coseglia Scholarship has been awarded.

Egwakhide, who will be studying to become a nurse at Regis College, wrote in her essay that: “I believe that a Catholic education changed my life for the better and helped me to come to a better understanding of myself. This scholarship will enable me to continue my search in life and give me the opportunity to continue my Catholic education at Regis College in the fall.”

With plans to study computer science at the University of Central Florida, Berjarano wrote: “I have been blessed to be raised in a Catholic family where faith plays an important role in our lives. By receiving the Coseglia Scholarship, I would be given a ticket to my own future; a way to attend university without worrying about needing to get into debt just to pursue my goals.”

Catholic Community Foundation Executive Director Michael Morse said the Coseglia Scholarship is a wonderful example of how one family chose to support the good works of the Catholic Church by investing in the education of our youth.

Those interested in learning how to set up an annual scholarship in their name, or the name of a loved one, should contact the Catholic Community Foundation at 941-441-1124.

Coalition for Life meets

Staff Report

6/18/19

Every year since the inception of the Coalition for Life in 2007 the Diocesan Respect Life Office has brought leaders together annually in the spring for updates, networking and to provide input on future activities.

Parish Respect Life Representatives (designated by Pastors), Knights of Columbus Culture of Life Chairmen, Council of Catholic Women Representatives, and others interested in serving, gathered June 2 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Those gathered enjoyed their time with like-minded people who dedicate themselves to building a Culture of Life in the Diocese of Venice.  Some attendees have been volunteering for 30 or more years while others have recently felt called to do something to promote a greater respect for life.

Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux gave a brief overview of the pro-life strategy outlined by the U.S. Bishops. She celebrated the previous 12-months of activities with a PowerPoint presentation that included pictures from key events such as the State Respect Life Conference that the Diocese hosted in the fall of 2018, 40 Days for Life, and Prayer Walks for Life in four locations, the March for Life in Washington and Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Looking ahead to the coming year, she announced that the movie UNPLANNED is due to be released on DVD and streaming in mid-August, providing a powerful tool for pro-life education.  The dates for Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee were announced:  January 28-30, 2020.  The three-day bus trip will be earlier since the Florida Legislative Session runs from January to March in even years, allowing legislators more time for campaigning in the summer and fall leading up to the 2020 elections.

Berdeaux also noted that there are excellent speakers available to present on a variety of life issue from conception to natural death. She also noted that video presentations from the 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference and events on the death penalty and other issues are available online at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane addressed the group and specifically spoke about the ramifications of recent events in states across the country with laws being enacted, both pro-life and pro-abortion, in anticipation of the day when the infamous Roe v Wade might be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, sending the issue back to the states. Bishop Dewane pointed out that Florida will still have a problem because of the privacy clause that was added to the State Constitution in 1980.

Attendees were given a new brochure explaining the Florida privacy clause and how this might impact any future legislation (available on the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops at www.flaccb.org/culture-of-life). A short video and other important resources which further explains the issue are also on the site.

Janine Marrone, founder of Luncheons 4 Life and member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, shared with the group a special project that shows 30-second videos promoting pregnancy help centers and adoption to young women via YouTube and other social media, helping them to look at a difficult situation from a pro-life perspective.

Project Rachel Coordinator Sylvia Jimenez shared information and stories to highlight the need to be sensitive when talking about abortion with others as there could very well be women or men listening who have been hurt by abortion.

One of the most important and fun parts of the day was the time spent in round-table discussions with others sharing what they are doing in their local area.

For information on how you can become involved of pro-life activities in your parish or the Diocese, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

New Director of Vocations announced

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

6/18/19

Father Shawn Roser knows what it is like to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice. He was one a year ago. This fact makes Father Roser uniquely qualified to be the new Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Venice.

Announced by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, and effective May 17, Father Roser said he is anxious to work to support the existing seminarians who are discerning the priesthood now, while at the same time finding innovative ways to encourage others to follow the same path.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Father Roser said. “The responsibility is awesome, and I will work diligently to help spread the word that promoting a vocation to the priesthood needs the support of all the faithful.”

Bishop Dewane noted that Father Roser is the right person to fill this important role in the Diocese. “Father Shawn has the spiritual awareness and enthusiasm needed to be a successful Vocations Director.”

As he settles into his new position, Father Roser noted that he will work to ensure the needs of the current Diocesan seminarians are being addressed. Since he was a seminarian, he already understands what it was like to go through the lengthy process of discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

“I understand the pressures, not just academically, but personally and spiritually,” Father Roser explained. “I will do what I can to help them through the discernment process.”

For those who might be thinking about discerning the priesthood, Father Roser will be there as a mentor as well. He went through a lengthy discernment process after he graduated from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.

He first went off to study aerospace engineering and applied meteorology, with the intention of pursuing a career as a U.S. Air Force officer and astronaut. It was then, during his involvement with Catholic campus ministry, that he experienced an awakening and renewing of his faith which started him on a journey to the priesthood. Father Roser was ordained on July 14, 2017.

Father said that long process, and the knowledge that everyone’s call to the priesthood is different, will help him encourage others to consider their calling.

“Today it is hard for young people to feel connected,” Father Roser said. “You have to help them strengthen their connection to the Lord; then the idea of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life becomes a more authentic option.”

Father said he is blessed to be building upon the positive work done by Father Eric Scanlan, the Vocations Director from 2015-2019, who is now Administrator of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and Chaplain at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.

He will be required to visit the different seminaries, attend vocations conferences and keep up with the academic and pastoral work of the seminarians. He will travel across the Diocese to promote vocations at various events still in the planning stages.

In addition to his duties as Vocations Director, Father is currently a Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton and is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus.

Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus and the generosity of the faithful.

Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocations. To support a seminarian, donations may be sent to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Shawn Roser at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4720, or visit www.venicevocations.com .

Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Poor Clare Sister, 101, dies

Staff Report

6/18/19

Poor Clare Sister Mary Paschal, of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, went peacefully home to God on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. She was 101.

Poor Clare Sister Sister Mary Paschal, of of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, went peacefully home to God on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. She was 101.

Born Honora Sadlier on March 12, 1918 in Lisheen Cashel Co., Tipperary, Ireland, Sister Mary began her religious life with the Sisters of St. Anne in England shortly after her 18th birthday in 1936. Sister Mary Paschal made her final profession as a Poor Clare on Oct. 4, 1946 and served in various capacities.

It was at the age of 70, when she answered a call for Poor Clare sisters to volunteer to join the newly established San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, adjacent to Ascension Parish, arriving in Florida on Oct. 7, 1989.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane officiated the Mass of Christian Burial at Ascension Parish on June 3. He described Sister Mary Paschal a profoundly religious woman who committed herself to the service of God early on.

Bishop Dewane spoke of how the Diocese was blessed to have Sister Mary Paschal, along with all of the Poor Clare Sisters, and gave thanks for her generosity of spirit she gave for all those years.

Recalling his many visits to the monastery, Bishop Dewane added that Sister Mary Paschal always greeted him with warmth and humor. One such visit was for Sister Mary Paschal’s 100th birthday celebration which brought hundreds of well-wishers.

Poor Clare Abbess, Sister Mary Frances Fortin, described Sister Mary Paschal’s time at the monastery: “She has served this community cheerfully and faithfully from that time (in 1989), blessing us all with her Irish wit and the wisdom of her many years in religious life. She will be greatly missed by her religious sisters and the many friends and benefactors of this community who have come to know and love her.”

With the Sisters of St. Anne before becoming a Poor Clare, Sister Mary Paschal served the sick and the elderly in this community. During the difficult times of World War II, she transferred to the contemplative life in 1941 when she joined the Poor Clare Nuns at Sclerder Abbey, Cornwall, England. Sister Mary Paschal made her final profession as a Poor Clare on Oct. 4, 1946. She served this community as novice mistress, and abbess. When the monastery of Sclerder closed, Sister transferred to the Monastery of St. Clare in Arundel, England for a short time and then to the Monastery of St. Clare in Darlington, England, before making her final journey to the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach.

She is survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorials in her name may be made to the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare, 6029 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL, 33931.

Diocesan Class of 2019 graduates

Staff Report

6/18/19

During the final two weeks of May, 330 Diocese of Venice Catholic High School students graduated, moving on in their personal journey, prepared for college, and a life of purpose.

The Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice foster an education centered in Christ, rooted in the Gospel, and alive in the Faith; leaving with an impressive record of Christian service as well as academic and athletic excellence.

The future engineers, doctors, teachers, priests and leaders of tomorrow received their diplomas from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota; St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples; Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and the Donahue Academy in Ave Maria.

Some 98 percent of the graduates are going on to some of the greatest institutes of high learning across the country. These graduates also earned an impressive $32 million is scholarships and represent some of the best and brightest in Southwest Florida.

A large percentage of the graduates are going on to study at Catholic colleges and universities, while others will be continuing their studies at Ivy League schools, with one accepting an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The exceptions are either entering the workforce or military, and two are going on mission trips.

During the May 24 Baccalaureate Mass for Bishop Verot Catholic High School at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers, Bishop Frank J. Dewane commended the graduates for their accomplishment by expressing his confidence that they will reflect the good that the Lord calls forth from them as they go out into the world.

“What you celebrate today is not an end, but you step forward in your life,” Bishop Dewane added. “Go forward! Find your path. Walk in that journey of faith, of maturing and of becoming more that man or woman of God you are called to be.”

Bishop Dewane also took time to thank the parents for having the confidence to send their children to a Catholic high school knowing that doing so is a sacrifice for them. He also thanked the faculty and staff for their commitment to providing a safe and supportive environment for the students in their charge.

The Bishop Verot graduation was May 25 at the high school. The Baccalaureate Mass for Cardinal Mooney was May 16 at Incarnation Parish and the graduation May 17 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota. The St. John Neumann Baccalaureate Mass was May 22 at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples and the graduation at the high school on May 23. The Donahue Baccalaureate Mass and graduation were both May 31 at Ave Maria Parish.

Hispanic Emmaus group holds gathering

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

For about 1,000 people a recent Sunday was spent growing and better rooting their love for the Lord while also gaining a profound sense of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

These were some of the things learned during the 2nd Diocese of Venice Congress of Emmaus (Emaus) which took place May 19 at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers. The event, which was in Spanish, was for those who have completed an Emmaus weekend retreat in the past and served as an opportunity to renew and recapture the fire that grew in them during their first retreat.

It was during that retreat during where they learned a new way to live their life, as Jesus taught in the Gospel of Luke with a particular emphasis on the story about the Road to Emmaus.

“Beautiful!” “Amazing!” “Powerful” “I felt Christ’s love!” These were just some of the reactions of people as they finished a 10-hour day. Between the speakers, the music and the community that everyone felt, the day was a huge success. Many commented on how uplifting and unifying the day was, bringing them closer to Jesus Christ is ways they did not expect.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the closing Mass for the day and said he was very pleased to see such an enthusiastic group dedicating an entire day to growing closer to the Lord through the Blessed Sacrament.

The Bishop specifically credited the Diocesan Spiritual Directors for Hispanic Emmaus, Fathers Jiobani Batista, Luis Pacheco and Luis Albarracin, for their commitment in supporting the Emmaus retreats and for bringing everyone together for the gathering to celebrate the Lord in a special way.

Father Batista, Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston, said the goal of the gathering was to inflame the participants with the miracle of Risen Lord as we continue our spiritual journey during this Easter Season.

“We also wanted to convey a renewed and deep devotion to the Eucharist,” Father Batista said. “After going on an Emmaus retreat, the powerful impact can fade over time. This gathering is a renewal so that everyone will carry this message and bring their excitement back to their parishes, spreading the message of the Lord to others.”

Each of the talks focused on the Eucharist. During the say, there was Eucharistic Adoration, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and music all building upon the theme. This led everyone toward the climatic conclusion of the day, the celebration of the Eucharist during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Speakers included Father Emilio Acevedo, Father Jose Asuncion Briones Barrientos, and Sister Maria Mercedez Rodriguez-Gomez, MHML, of St. Margaret Parish. Music was provided by the Custodia de Cristo and Son del Senor del Miami. The featured music was provided by Catholic singer-songwriter Jon Carlo.

The Emmaus retreat program is a Diocesan-approved retreat weekend that takes place three times a year in both English and Spanish. It’s open to all men and women ages 20 or older seeking to grow in their relationship with Christ regardless of their present level of faith and practice. The purpose of the weekend is to give adults the opportunity to reflect upon themselves, their relationship with God and their community.

The next full gathering of Emmaus retreatants will be April 25, 2020 at the Lee Civic Center. To learn more about Emmaus retreats across the Diocese, contact your local parish or email emaus@dioceseofvenice.org or emmaus@dioceseofvenice.org.

Parish welcomes visiting religious priests

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

A driving rain storm did little to quell the enthusiasm of the faithful at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee when they welcomed more than 40 Missionaries of St. Charles (Scalabrinians) who were visiting the parish for the Mass as part of a week-long Provincial Assembly in Boca Raton.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant for a May 9 Mass. Father Mario Germia, CS, General Councilor of the Order, and Provincial Superior Father Maocir Balen, CS, Parish Pastor Father Carlos Reyes-Ramirez, CS, and Parochial Vicar Father Wilner Durosier, CS, as well as the other Scalabrinian priests concelebrated the Mass.

The assembly side-trip to Immokalee for the priests was planned to thank the community for their support of the religious order through the years and to see the progress on the construction of the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church which is nearing completion adjacent to the existing church.

The first Scalabrinian priests arrived at Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1985 and the community has served there ever since. Several priests who previously served at the parish were present for the celebration and were, following the Mass, individually recognized and cheered by the faithful for their service.

Bishop Dewane expressed his humble and heartfelt gratitude for the years the Missionaries of St. Charles have been in the Diocese, serving the faithful here and continuing to reach out to other missions that were founded.

“I cannot help but express a strong genuine gratefulness and thanks for your vocation, for your choosing to be a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles, and for the sacrifices that you make,” the Bishop added. “Also, for the good that you do for the people of God, and particularly here in Immokalee by building up the faith community.”

The welcome from the parishioners was overwhelming as they packed the church for the tri-lingual Mass (English, Spanish and Creole) and afterwards joyously cheered the visiting priests for their vocation and continued service to the community.

Provincial Father Balen thanked Bishop Dewane for his ongoing support of the Scalabrinian priests who continue to serve in Immokalee. He also thanked the faithful of the parish for their enthusiasm for the visit, noting that the group was expecting a quiet time for Mass and some reflection but instead they were welcomed with joyous open arms that reflect the love of Christ that permeates throughout the parish.

“Thank you to Bishop Dewane and thank you all for the love you have showed us,” Father Balen said in English and Spanish.

The Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians – are an international community of religious missionaries dedicated to the service of migrants of differing cultures and ethnicities in countries throughout the world. We are a religious apostolic community called by God to share in the mission of the church by helping migrants discover and carry out the plan of salvation during human migration and within their lives.  The Congregation was founded on Nov. 28, 1887 by Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini (1839-1905), Bishop of Piacenza, Italy.

Scalabrinians are committed to the promotion of human dignity and human rights of migrants, including their faith and cultural values.  They are also committed to promote the total salvation of mankind, leading migrants in particular, to a rediscovery of faith in their lives with a longing for dignity and justice.

The Scalabrinian Fathers of the Province of St. Charles Borromeo Provincial Assembly gathered priests who serve in the eastern U.S., eastern Canada, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Following the Mass, a fiesta was held and in spite of the rain, everyone persevered and enjoyed themselves as the food was served under the awning of the new church and all sat at tables under tents set up in the parking lot.

Bishop Dewane noted during the Mass that the new building, which has been under construction for more than two years, will soon be opened and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered. “Your patience has been appreciated and you will be rewarded with another celebration very soon.”

Mooney seniors graduate

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Congratulations to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Class of 2019. They are now high school graduates who leave their time with a Diocesan Catholic education that has prepared them well for their journey into adulthood.

The commencement exercises were held May 17 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota. Valedictorian Lorca Looney Stainton and Salutatorian Sam Dillion Koscho both spoke during the commencement, sharing words of wisdom and reflecting upon the benefits of their Catholic education.

The Commencement Address was given by Dr. Janina Morusiewicz Krajewski, Mooney Class of 1994, who owns a veterinary hospital in Palmetto.

The 102 graduates earned a combined $9.5 million in scholarships with all of the students going on to some of the finest college and universities in the country.

The students participated in a May 15 Baccalaureate Mass at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, which was celebrated by priests of the Diocese, with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis and uncle of two of the graduates, as the main celebrant. Mooney Chaplain Father Eric Scanlan delivered the homily and said the students were taught to learn that the Catholic Faith is “a Faith that calls us to love our God above all things and our neighbor as oneself. A Faith that sees God in all that is good and true and beautiful.”

Father Scanlan also encouraged the graduate to believe as they go forward that Christ will do everything He can to deliver them to fulfillment and true happiness. “To do this, you need to stay close to Him. Stay close to Him in the years to come. All he wants is you; your heart, and whatever comes, if you are with Him – all will be well.”

The most inspiring moment of the graduation was when Jaelen Childs received his diploma. It was on Jan. 31 when the baseball player was critically injured in a traffic crash not far from the high school. The baseball player has struggled to recover from a shattered left femur and pelvis as well as internal injuries and received a great deal of support from the school and classmate which helped him to persevere and to be at the commencement.

Childs is still recovering from his injuries and was in a wheelchair on stage during the ceremony. After each of the other students were presented their diplomas, Assistant Principal Stefan Gates called out his name. With the aid of crutches, he walked across the stage to a standing ovation to receive his high school diploma.

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