Immersion in the Catholic faith has defined the education of Holy Rosary Academy graduates Jacob Owens and Justin Klump.
The two young men comprised the 2014 graduating class of the small K-12th-grade Anchorage school.
On May 20, the graduates were surrounded by family, friends and educators at the baccalaureate liturgy in St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church, just down the street from the school. There, former pastor of the church Father James Barrand, who has served both young men as spiritual director and confirmation sponsor, returned to Alaska briefly for the liturgy and commencement ceremony.
The baccalaureate landed on the same day that Byzantine Catholics celebrated the feast day of the Emperor Constantine and his mother, Saint Helena. In his homily, Father Barrand compared the high school seniors to Constantine and Helena — lay people who were called and fortified by God to bring the message of Christianity to the world and build up the church on earth.
Following the liturgy, many attendees enjoyed a dinner where educators and family members addressed the graduates, sharing memories of and advice for the future. Teacher Austin Welsh observed how Holy Rosary’s Catholic and classical method of education has prepared the young men for life. He began by noting that the current generation, unlike any other before it, is an age of access to information. Welsh said that “an overabundance of information can lead to a type of paralysis.” Because of this, he advised the graduates to not only ask, “What do I know?” but also, “What am I going to do with what I know?”
Welsh explained that the two keys to using all of the information at our disposal to make good decisions are: the ability to live by ordered principles, and to discern what corresponds with those principles.
He added that the classical, seminar-style classes at Holy Rosary have given both young men the critical thinking skills needed to make wise decisions.
The next day, family, friends, teachers and others attended the graduation ceremony at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
The gathering began with Mass celebrated by Dominican priest Father Anthony Patalano, pastor of Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.
During the Mass, the Holy Rosary choir led hymns chosen by the graduates. Father Patalano’s homily urged Klump and Owen to remember Christ’s exhortation that all disciples must be the spiritual salt of the earth, and that if they don’t adhere whole-heartedly to the teachings of Christ, not only would their faith be in vain, but they would also lead others astray.
Reflections were given by some of the mentors of the graduates. First, St. Benedict Church parishioner and Tastee Freez owner Rich Owens shared some remarks. Owens has known Jacob Owens (no relation) for years through the parish and work, and he commended the young man’s strong work ethic and promising future. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton youth group leader Nathan Krawetzke praised Klump’s deep commitment to his relationship with Christ, which has inspired both Krawetzke and youth of the parish.
The two graduates already have plans for the future. Klump aims to follow the footsteps of his father and older brother in attending Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. Owens will spend a year studying philosophy and theology at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria before applying for a degree program.