The last time I blogged I was living in a different state, I had teenagers in or almost in high school, and my dear mom and my dear father-in-law were both still with us. A lot has happened, as it tends to do over the course of seven years.
Much could be said about all of the above, but today I’m thinking about our second son’s high school class which graduated from St Marys Academy in St Marys, KS, in the spring of 2021.
How we came to live here is St Marys, how our son became a student at SMA is, again, a blogpost for another day. Today my thoughts are with that class he grafted into in the middle of his 8th grade year. Who knew then how tight these 25-ish boys would become over the years. But they did. Many soccer and baseball games, many Crucibles, many choir concerts, drama productions, and high school retreats, to say nothing of studies, essays, tests and final exams later, these boys became knit together in ways that, I think, doesn’t happen with every graduating class.
The fall after their graduation found the boys going in various directions, some to St Marys College right here in St Marys, or other colleges, some working jobs, and one (our son) recently having completed Basic Training and pursuing specialized training in the US Army (yet again, a story for another day). But most impressive might be that five of these classmates from SMA ‘21 headed to Dillwyn, VA, that fall, where they entered St Thomas Aquinas Seminary, their first step in discerning vocations to the priesthood. Five from a class of 25!
Through their various directions, experiences, and locations, near or far, these now young men have remained tight, like they were on graduation day in 2021 when after the ceremonies were finished they all locked arms and sang a song that you might’ve heard them singing around the campfire on a lazy Friday evening. Their tenor and baritone voices made such melody in the auditorium that day that parents, siblings, teaching staff and clergy alike stopped to listen. It was, I don’t know, special. (This Mom trying to come up with an adjective that won’t inspire an eye-roll from said classmates!)
And now, fast-forward to today. Two days before the Feast of the Presentation/Purification (Feb 2) and these young men find themselves gathering together yet again, this time to go out to the seminary in VA. Twelve young men this evening got in three trucks to make a 16-hour drive so that they can witness their five seminarian classmates in a solemn celebration to receive their cassocks, that handsome black collared habit that will one day, as God wills it, identify them as Catholic priests for the rest of their lives. It is perhaps the first of many milestones on their way to the priesthood, and their 12 friends wouldn’t miss it.
And so, trucks packed with camping gear fit for February’s frigid temps, dress suits, and food for 12 Hungry Men, they set out this evening driving east, with hopes of arriving by noon tomorrow, Feb 1.
I feel very blessed this evening as I think back to that day our son came out to St Marys Academy mid-8th grade to live and attend school with these boys, little knowing then that some six years later many of them would be trekking across this land in support of those of their class who are pursuing priestly vocations. I am so pleased and humbled that our son was able to benefit from a purely traditional Catholic education and formation as is provided by the good priests and faculty at St Marys Academy. I realize that it is, sadly, something not readily available to many families, and I certainly don’t take that for granted. God has richly blessed our family, eventually bringing us all here to St Marys.
On Thursday, five men (among several others) from SMA receive their cassocks. Twelve more young men will be present in support. These 17 young men out of a class of 25, will be together in friendship and celebration. May this be the first of many solemn celebrations for these guys to gather together with ordinations, and eventually marriages and baptisms all to come in God’s time, in their futures.
God has certainly blessed these boys-become-men of the SMA Class of 2021.