Class of 2019 being sent forth with prayers, challenges, gratitude

Kara Spear of Hanna City receives a “Blessing of Hands” from Father Dennis Spohrer during the Baccalaureate Mass May 18 at the Peoria Civic Center for graduates of the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing. Spear was one of 93 students earning a bachelor of science in nursing degree. Father Spohrer is assistant chaplain at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. Also administering the blessing were Msgr. Mark Merdian, diocesan episcopal vicar for healthcare, and Deacon Joseph Knapp, pastoral care manager at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Whether they are graduating from a Catholic college, high school, or grade school, members of the Class of 2019 in the Diocese of Peoria are being asked to stay close to the Lord and share Christ’s love wherever life takes them in the future.

After receiving their diplomas, Destiny Dye, Mollie DeBord, and other members of the Class of 2019 at Schlarman Academy in Danville transfer their tassels from right to left to signify that they are now graduates. The ceremonies took place on May 19 in conjunction with a 1 p.m. Mass at St. Paul Church in Danville. (Provided photo/David Calkins)

“Your love of God brings an additional quality to your professional competence,” Msgr. Mark Merdian told more than 125 persons receiving nursing degrees on May 18 from the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing.

Msgr. Merdian, episcopal vicar for health care in the Diocese of Peoria, was principal celebrant and homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement that filled the spacious Peoria Civic Center ballroom with the graduates, their families and friends.

“Take the healing power that ultimately comes from Jesus the Lord to your nursing care wherever you go,” said Msgr. Merdian, who moments later called the graduates forward for a ceremonial “Blessing of Hands.”

Commencement ceremonies took place last Sunday at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign, Schlarman Academy in Danville, and St. Bede Academy in Peru. This Sunday, graduates of Peoria Notre Dame, Marquette Academy in Ottawa, and Alleman High School in Rock Island will receive diplomas.

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