Today is the beginning of Alumni Weekend here at John Carroll. It is a great time to gather for some football, festive class reunions, good food, and catching up with old friends and teachers. We had a great time last year when Alumni Weekend debuted. It was really nice to have all the activities and reunions on one weekend last Fall instead of spread throughout the year. The buzz created before and afterwards ensured that our numbers in attendance would be greater this year.
Alumni Weekend is a time of remembering: the old stories and great memories, the laughter, and recalling all the good times and bad times that we got through with our friends and families. But as time marches on so quickly, we become conscious of those whom we have lost in the interim. This Sunday we will gather in the school auditorium to remember in a special way those who have gone Home before us from our John Carroll family.
Our Alumni Mass will include a Memorial Service with a photo-slide show and the solemn reading of the names of those who are no longer with us: classmates, teachers, administrators, and friends. Some are students who died while in high school; the others are graduates, teachers, and our much-loved Sisters of Saint Joseph (LINK: www.ssjphila.org) who served at John Carroll for over forty-five years.
It is a bittersweet labor of love each year for me to update the slide show and add the photos and names of those whom we have lost since the previous year. I get teary-eyed as I remember the younger ones whom I had in class, the older ones who were my friends and neighbors, the faculty members who were my colleagues and friends, and the dear Sisters who were my role models as faith-filled women and mentors.
The memories flood me each year as I listen to the names being read and watch the faces on the slides: teachers who were important to the formation of many young lives, some of whom died while still on staff here at school; Graduates who went on to have families and professional lives, many of whom died way before their time. We are still considered a young school. Having opened in 1964, our first graduates are just 62 this year.
And then there are the students who died in the prime of their teenage years: some in car accidents, others who were very sick and did not pull through, and, most tragically, some who suffered an internal struggle that they could not face or share, and who took their own lives.
Loved and missed, each one of them. They will be remembered; our beloved departed, annually in the heart of John Carroll, both at the Alumni Memorial Mass and at our student liturgy for All Saints-All Souls Day. We will never understand the reasons why some live long lives and others leave us way too soon… We trust in our loving God to know those answers.
So amidst this upcoming Alumni Weekend which will be filled with laughter, and fun, the sharing of stories, and lots of photographs, we will pause to remember. And we are grateful for those memories.
And so we pray:
support us all the day long,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world lies hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in Your great mercy,
grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest,
and peace at the last,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(–Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)
In good times and in bad:
God is Good: All the time!!
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