St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman graduated twenty-one seniors on Sunday, May 27th in an impressive ceremony conducted in the Abbey Church and under the direction of Fr. Joel Martin, President of the School. After welcoming members of the Board of Directors, the faculty, the staff and the invited guests, Fr. Joel noted that this year’s graduating seniors had the distinction of earning almost $2 million dollars in scholarships and were accepted into 36 colleges and universities.
As part of the 113th commencement exercises, the St. Bernard Board of Directors recognized two alumni who received the “Distinguished Alumnus Award.” Bernard F. Morrey, M.D., Emeritus Chair of the Department of Orthopedics, and the John and Posy Krehbiel Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and Phillip B. Rooney, philanthropist and retired President and CEO of Waste Management Corporation, were inducted into the St. Bernard Distinguished Alumnus Class of 2012. Fr. Marcus Voss, Director of Development of St. Bernard Prep School, presided over this portion of the graduation ceremonies.
Abbot Cletus D. Meagher, O.S.B., was the main celebrant and homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass held earlier in the day. During his homily he reminded the graduates of the challenges they will meet, especially as they learn to exercise their freedoms as young adults. Dr. Bernard F. Morrey delivered the Commencement address, demonstrating a true gift for storytelling by emphasizing three pieces of advice for each graduate: 1) Choose a career path of which one is passionate, 2) Be willing to try new challenges so one may live up to one’s potential, and 3) Don’t be afraid of failure along the way to success.
After the commencement address, John Tekulve, Headmaster of Saint Bernard Preparatory School, announced this year’s graduation awards. Goun Choi received the valedictorian award while Savannah Faye Beaver was named salutatorian. In giving the general excellence medal, the highest award given to a graduating senior, Fr. Joel stated that “the criteria for this award requires that a student must be enrolled at St. Bernard Prep for the last two full years, be dedicated to academic excellence, exercise leadership and represent the values of the school.” The 2012 general excellence medal was presented to Madeline Grace Schweers.
Diplomas were presented to the graduating seniors by Abbot Cletus Meagher with Fr. Joel Martin assisting him. After the awarding of the diplomas, Goun Choi gave the valedictory address during which she highlighted the importance of the journey that will lead this year’s graduates to their life goals.
Fr. Joel Martin ended the ceremony calling attention to the role that challenges play in life. “We need challenges because we come alive in struggles,” he said. “We have high expectations for your future. You’re made for greatness. Go and take St. Bernard with you.”
Music for the graduation exercises was provided by Dr. Rebecca Whited, as well as the Alabama Pipes and Drums Corps. The Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Honor Guard of the Fr. Leo Carter Assembly 2624 also participated in the ceremonies.
Following the prayer and dismissal by Abbot Cletus Meagher, a reception was held in the St. Bernard Dining Hall.