HARTFORD – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair celebrated the first-ever Archdiocese of Hartford-sponsored Baccalaureate Mass for Catholic homeschool graduates May 18 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph. The graduates comprised 11 from elementary and 12 from high school.
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For these students and families, representing 13 Connecticut parishes and one from Longmeadow, Mass., it was a particularly meaningful evening because such a ceremony had never been held here.
With the imminence of the graduation season, the archbishop approached local homeschoolers with his idea of celebrating a Mass for the 2015 graduates. He wanted to confer a special blessing through the celebration of the Mass and to recognize the students with a formal credential from the archdiocesan family. He presented each of them with a certificate and a blessed devotional item.
“Nothing compares to having your Shepherd leading you in prayer and community. We are all deeply moved by Archbishop Blair’s affirmation that education takes on all forms but begins at home,” said Dee-Dee Mihaliak by email afterward. She is the parent of five homeschooled children, including one graduate, and coordinator of the homeschool support group Adoro Te.
Acknowledging in his greeting the breadth of the growing homeschool community, Archbishop Blair said, “It is a great joy for me to see so many of you gathered here this evening representing homeschooling families from near and far.”
Integrating the theme of education into his homily, the archbishop cited the Gospel of John and described the days between the Ascension and Pentecost as a demonstration that the true educator is the Holy Spirit.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he said, “in keeping with the longstanding teaching of the church, speaks of the parents as the first educators of children, and the decision to educate takes many forms, many progressions, many considerations. Those of you who have chosen homeschooling have chosen a path that gives you a great responsibility but also tremendous joy and an intimate part in the education and formation of your young men and women, your sons and daughters.”
He told the graduates that the several hundred people on hand were praying above all “that you will always open your hearts and minds to the gift of the Holy Spirit…”
Many of the students knelt to receive holy Communion and again to receive the archbishop’s blessing. “[Reverence is] embedded in the families. Devout families, living the life of a Catholic.
"It’s not hidden; it’s on their sleeve; it goes throughout everything they do, so it’s not compartmentalized,” said Sarah Gedicks, a homeschooling parent and mother of a graduating eighth grader. She also serves as cantor at the cathedral.
Father Vito DeCarolis of St. Rita Parish in Hamden, who was among the concelebrants, said he was inspired “to see how Catholic faith has taken a beautiful root in these young people.”
Information about Catholic homeschooling in Connecticut is available at CatholicHomeschoolersCT@gmail.com.
The homeschool graduates and their parishes are eighth graders Andrew W. Gallop, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Waterbury; Peter J. Gedicks, Cathedral of St. Joseph; Marco G. Kouatly, St. Mary, Coventry; Christina G. Liquori, St. Augustine, North Branford; Cecilia T. Morlino, St. Joseph, Danbury; Abigail Zofia Olis, Sacred Heart, New Britain; Dina Sophia Patryn, St. Mary, Longmeadow; Jacob N. Pavia, St. Ann, Bridgeport; Mary E. Schwartz, Cathedral of St. Joseph; Joshua John Suess, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Brookfield; and Therese J. Vonesh, who worships in South Windsor.
Also, 12th graders Mark G. Beckman, St. Joseph, Winsted; Nathaniel D. Belk, Cathedral of St. Joseph; Mary-Catherine Froula and Matthew B. Gallop, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception; John P. Henares, St. Ann, Avon; Lorraine L. Mihaliak, Cathedral of St. Joseph; Rebecca Ann Lamore, Sacred Heart, New Britain; Mary C. Morlino, St. Joseph, Danbury; Emily J. Olis, Sacred Heart, New Britain; Annie E. Temple, St. James, Manchester; Rebecca Renee Voccola, St. Bridget of Kildare, Moodus; and Julia A. Wehner, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Wallingford.