“Historic” Mass at DBCR
“Historic” was the term that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, used to describe Don Bosco Cristo Rey HS’s inaugural baccalaureate Mass on the evening of June 1, 2011.
The cardinal was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass, celebrated in Our Lady of Sorrows Church adjacent to the Takoma Park, Md., school. The pastor, Fr. Raymond Wadas; the Salesians of the school staff—Frs. Steve Shafran (president), John Serio (principal), and Abe Feliciano (director of faith formation); Fr. George Hanna, director of the Salesian community; and Msgr. John Enzler, vicar of development of the archdiocese, concelebrated. Deacon Bert L’Homme, the archdiocese’s superintendent of Catholic schools, assisted the cardinal. The outstanding Gospel choir from Nativity Parish (the SDB parish in Washington) under the direction of Marvin Ford provided the music.
The church was about three-fourths full with proud parents and families, members of the school’s board of directors, and other friends of the school and the students—and of course the 70 seniors in their caps and gowns and the faculty and staff in their academic regalia.
Just after 7:00 p.m. the graduates-to-be processed in and took their places in the front pews on both sides, followed by the faculty, the concelebrants and liturgical ministers, and the cardinal.
Fr. Steve Shafran, president of DBCR, welcomed Cardinal Wuerl to the rite and thanked him for the support, indeed the partnership, that he has demonstrated toward the school since its beginning.
The cardinal responded by noting the historic nature of the occasion and then called everyone to union with Christ through the Eucharistic celebration.
The cardinal introduced his homily by thanking Fr. Shafran, Fr. Serio, the entire DBCR family, the board of directors, and the present and past superintendents of schools of the archdiocese—three of whom were present. He congratulated the seniors on their accomplishments and pronounced them ready for the next step in their lives.
Cardinal Wuerl expressed his hope that the graduates would take four lessons with them to help them flourish in the future. He also called these lessons “blessings” bestowed upon them by DBCR.
The 1st blessing given them is the opportunity to know Jesus Christ and to recognize the importance of his Gospel in our lives. The Gospel, he said, will help them to know how to answer the great questions of life, how to make the right choices.
The 2d blessing is the excellent academic preparation they have received, a unique preparation for the future. He noted that all of the seniors have been accepted into college or university because of DBCR’s high academic level.
The 3d blessing the cardinal called “a sense of moral judgment” that will help them face all kinds of modern moral issues that the Gospel doesn’t address explicitly; he mentioned several technical matters.
The 4th blessing is based on the dignity and capabilities of each graduate, and that blessing is hope: that they can go confidently into the future and accomplish something.
At the end of Mass, Fr. Shafran addressed everyone, noting the Easter season that we’re in, and reminding the DBCR community that they are called to be a community, like the first disciples, who will show that Jesus is alive; they are men and women of faith poised to become saints.
DBCR’s “plan of life,” demonstrated on four banners at the rear of the sanctuary, is “faith, family, future, and fun.” Fr. Shafran observed how those four elements had been brought to life in the last several days through the school’s first senior prom (fun), the senior-parent dinner the previous evening (family), the commencement exercises scheduled for the following day (future), and of course this baccalaureate Mass (faith).
To be really successful in life, Fr. Shafran concluded, we all have to keep Jesus Christ and his Mother in our lives.
DBCR inaugurated a “Don Bosco Award,” Fr. Shafran and Timothy Flynn, chairman of the board, presented the first award to Cardinal Wuerl in recognition of how he has inspired all levels of educators in the Washington Archdiocese. A statue of Don Bosco with two students, male and female like DBCR’s student body, was given to the cardinal.
Senior Veronica Giron, who as a freshman was the very first student to address a crowed on a special occasion—the school’s opening ceremony in 2007—expressed a few words of gratitude on behalf of her class.
The archdiocese, too, is inaugurating a new award, the Cardinal’s Award. This consists of a plaque and a $1,500 scholarship. It was presented to senior Julio Hernandez.