Value of high school recalled - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Value of high school recalled

As I was leaving a local restaurant after lunch today, five men sitting at a nearby table called out a greeting. I went to their table to respond to their courtesy. In the course of the conversation, I asked if they were part of a formal organization or group. “Oh yes”, one of the gentlemen replied, “we are the Romeo group.”

“What’s that?” I asked. “I’m not familiar with that name.”

My friend replied, “We are Retired Old Men Eating Out.”

I learned that the five men were all members of the Class of 1953 from Madison High School, and met on a regular basis to nurture friendships begun over 50 years ago. One had the sense in their presence that the friendships they have celebrated for so long mean a great deal to them.
That encounter would have been pleasurable under any circumstances; it is always edifying to observe people enjoying one another’s company. Doing so seems consistently to encourage participation and to bring those involved strength in good times and in difficult moments as well.

That brief encounter bore an additional gift for me today. Just this morning, I had the pleasure of celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy with the community at Bishop Kearney High School. It was a lively, prayerful experience made so by the marvelous students of that school and by the presence of board members, administration, faculty and staff, who serve the students with such skill and generosity.

The readings of the Feast of St. Matthew, which we celebrate today (Sept. 21), invited a reflection on the theme of God’s call in our lives. Based on the readings, I encouraged the students to recognize that their high school years provide a precious opportunity to do just that. Through their years at Kearney, they explore our church’s rich spiritual tradition. They enjoy the presence, encouragement and witness of an excellent faculty. They have the special gift of common purpose and friendship with one another.
On the way home from the restaurant, I wished that the five men I met could have been at Bishop Kearney High School with me just to share with the kids how important their high school years had been for them, and what lasting values and friendships were born and developed there.

Another piece of reality woven into my reflection on the R.O.M.E.O. guys and the Kearney kids is the fact that my high school class from Catholic Central High School in Troy will celebrate its 50th anniversary next month. As that October weekend comes near, I think more and more of the event, recalling and savoring my memories of those very formative years.

Two hundred ninety-seven of us graduated in 1955. We, like the Kearney students today, were privileged to be cared for by some wonderful human beings who were excellent teachers and who cared deeply about our human development. I remember to this day the personal strengths of many of them and the particular ways in which they encouraged me by word and example. I expect that in the days between now and our 50th anniversary, I will think even more about those great teachers. And, I know that I look forward to being with classmates, including so many who helped me to grow through the gift of the friendships we shared.

It dawns on me as I write that I haven’t seen the majority of my classmates since we graduated. I’d better stop here, pull out our class yearbook and practice up on the names.

Peace to all.

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