Catholic school leaders share best life advice with graduates

Rely on the Catholic faith. See miracles every day. Express gratitude to someone in a handwritten note. Maintain a prayer routine.

The Catholic Spirit asked leaders from each Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to share their best life advice with this year’s graduating seniors. It has been edited for length and clarity.

“You are graduating in interesting times. Work hard and study hard. Know where you want to go and keep your eyes on your goal. Our world has complicated issues to solve, and your mind and heart are needed to participate in the process to improve and grow our world and our human culture.”

— Principal Heidi Foley,
Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield

“Albert Einstein wrote, ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ Be the kind of person who chooses to see miracles every day. I believe that God intends us to live this way, to see everything through the eyes of faith and take in the joy, peace and love that surrounds us.”

— Principal Susan Skinner,
Benilde-St. Margaret’s in St. Louis Park

“For 31 years, I have been reminding high school seniors of the value of a handwritten note. If they develop the habit after graduation, they might be the one person who is sharing their gratitude and appreciation in this way. Each one takes time, each is one of a kind, you will see them displayed, and they might be kept in shoe boxes for a lifetime. All you need is stationary, note cards, a pen and some stamps to get started.”

— President and Principal Chuck Briscoe,
Bethlehem Academy in Faribault

“Find the extraordinary in the ordinary so that you don’t grow hard and brittle. Draw close to the Lord of life daily by spending time in prayer, never tiring of listening for the small, quiet voice described by Elijah. Be like Samuel and report for duty by boldly saying, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

— Superintendent and Headmaster David Beskar,
Chesterton Academy of the Twin Cities (Edina and St. Paul)

“Our Catholic high schools have prepared you for so much more than academics. Our Catholic tradition certainly honors intellect, but at the core of our faith tradition is Jesus’ teaching to care for those among us, particularly the marginalized. To live an authentic life, let the dear neighbor lead the way.”

— Principal Mona Passman,
Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul

“My advice is not to worry too much about making perfect choices, and don’t expect to have it all figured out just yet. Take a deep breath and open yourself to all the possibilities and choices that await you. I encourage you to use this time to explore whatever ignites your many possible interests.”

— Interim Principal Erin Healy,
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis

“At DeLaSalle High School, the class of 2018 has prayed at least 3,500 times since they walked into our doors as ninth-graders nearly four years ago. This is a routine at our school — at the start of every class, meeting and assembly. It is our hope that this year’s graduating seniors take this prayer routine with them in their daily lives beyond high school.”

— Principal Jim Benson,
DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis

“Rely on your Catholic faith, values and moral compass to guide you in times of indecision or difficulty.”

— Principal Erin Herman,
Hill-Murray School in Maplewood

“Live Jesus in your heart. Then follow your heart.”

— Principal Kathleen Brown,
Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria

“Friends, have courage to avoid becoming a statistic. A Gallup poll says only 25 percent of you will continue to go to Mass. Beat the odds, knowing that faith is the path to true understanding. Today’s fashion says you must create yourself, according to your feelings, attitudes and desires. The truth is, God created you according to his desire. And he desires your genuine happiness — with him and with others in him. He gave his son to be your way, your truth and your life. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and always.”

— Headmaster Todd Flanders,
Providence Academy in Plymouth

“Hold onto the truths of the Catholic faith (they can bear all critical scrutiny), and love each and every person you meet as Christ loves you.”

— Headmaster Kevin Ferdinandt,
St. Agnes School in St. Paul

“I encourage the members of the class of 2018 to remember three key lessons as they move onto their next stages of life:
1. Kindness is not a form of weakness; it is a sign of true strength of character. 2. Seek deep and meaningful relationships with others and actively work to break down barriers. 3. Find the courage to remain true to yourself, to keep your faith alive and
to act in congruence with what you hold most dear.”

— Headmaster Matt Mohs,
St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights

“I can’t take credit for this advice because it was shared with me by one of our graduates who went to The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Her advice was to open every email you receive while in college. Because she did this herself, she traveled the world through internships and volunteer experiences, many of which were free. By making connections to multiple organizations, she was able to network with folks all over the world. Take advantage of the opportunities that arise. You never know where they might take you, and the experiences you have will broaden your perspective on different cultures and how you might serve others. In addition, always remember that you are in the holy presence of God. You are never alone. Best wishes to you.”

— Principal Cheri Broadhead,
Totino-Grace High School in Fridley

“Most of the following advice was handed down to me:
Find reasons to be grateful each day; have the humility to admit when you are wrong, and, more importantly, have the grace to forgive yourself and the mistakes of others; and when you feel lonely, remember that God is always with you.”

— Director of Upper School Anna Barter,
Convent of the Visitation in Mendota Heights

Graduation 2018 — Special Section

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Category: Graduation