Nearly 500 will graduate from Catholic high schools in the diocese this month

The 85 seniors of St. Bede Academy in Peru pose for a group photo before the school's 130th Commencement on Sunday, May 15. The six other Catholic high schools and academies in the Diocese of Peoria will host graduation Masses and exercises the following two weekends. (Provided photo/Katherine Koyak, St. Bede Academy)

Learning to love like Jesus is a lifelong pursuit, and members of the Class of 2022 should expect the unexpected and not be afraid to “jump into the unknown” when surprises interrupt their best-laid plans.

That was just some of the advice given to 85 seniors by speakers at the 130th Commencement of St. Bede Academy in Peru on Sunday, May 15.

St. Bede was the first of the seven Catholic high schools and academies in the Diocese of Peoria to host graduation ceremonies. In the coming days, nearly 400 additional seniors will receive their diplomas at ceremonies including:

  • Saturday, May 21 — The High School of Saint Thomas More, Champaign, 2 p.m. at the school, 58 seniors
  • Sunday, May 22 — Central Catholic, Bloomington, 2 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 70 seniors; Schlarman Academy, Danville, 2 p.m. at St. Paul Church, 17 seniors
  • Sunday, May 29 — Alleman High School, Rock Island, 1 p.m. at Centennial Hall of Augustana College, 77 seniors; Peoria Notre Dame, 2 p.m. in the ballroom of the Peoria Civic Center, 153 seniors; Marquette Academy, Ottawa, 3 p.m. at Gould Stadium, 38 seniors (one posthumously)

LESSONS OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION

“Sometimes the decision to take a risk, to step out of your comfort zone, to jump into the unknown, are the most profoundly impactful decisions we will ever make,” said Father Larry Snyder, guest speaker at the St. Bede commencement. A 1968 graduate of the Benedictine-run academy, Father Snyder went on to become a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and served for 25 years with Catholic Charities, including as president of Catholic Charities USA from 2005 to 2015.

St. Bede Class of 2022 graduates throw their caps after graduation on Sunday, May 15, 2022 at St. Bede Academy in Peru. 84 graduates were present for the 130th annual commencement ceremony.

He told the St. Bede seniors that working with Catholic Charities was not in his sights at ordination, but two years into his priesthood he was asked to leave parish work for a time by his archbishop. The result was “the most amazing experience I could have ever had.”

When the inevitable surprises of life happen, Father Snyder encouraged the seniors to lean on the lessons they learned at St. Bede.

“If the purpose of Catholic education is to educate the whole person, and to do so by presenting whatever is true, whatever is good, and whatever is beautiful, then that was my experience here and I hope it was yours as well,” said Father Snyder.

In his homily at a Mass at the Mass preceding the commencement, St. Bede Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, urged the seniors and all present to make God the center and focus of their lives and “ask Jesus to teach us how to love, how to pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to create in us a pure heart.”

“Loving like Christ is a lifelong pursuit,” said Abbot Philip, and calls for the sacrificial love that Jesus modeled.

“As we go forward in our life, we need to daily ask how we are showing the love of God to one another,” he said.

The Catholic Post will profile the valedictorians and salutatorians of the Class of 2022 in the Diocese of Peoria in a future edition.

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