Archbishop Tobin shaking hands with President Therber at Father Tom Mass on November 5th
This month, we celebrated a splendid Father Tom Day Mass on campus. It was a lively and first-rate celebration of Father Tom and of our school community.
We had a full house. To be a little more informal, the gym was packed! It was a beautiful and strong sight that reflected many profound messages and realities
Why was it such a special day?
To welcome everyone to Father Tom Day, I commented that we are a “Scecina Strong” community of more than 7,500 people from various walks of life. The full house on Father Tom Day was a profound testament of our community.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin, C. Ss. R., was the primary Mass celebrant. Eight priests who currently serve in the East Deanery or who have served here at one time concelebrated.
Our ongoing mission as a co-educational archdiocesan Catholic high school means many things. One is that we have a collaborative and positive relationship with the Archbishop of Indianapolis, who now is Archbishop Joseph Tobin, C. Ss. R. Were it not for the full endorsement of the Archbishop of Indianapolis, whoever he is at any given moment, we would not exist.
Think about that! Archbishop Tobin, like his predecessors including Archbishop Daniel Buechlein most recently, is like a parent to us. Archbishops give us life, guidance, encouragement, and support. If we wander from the intended path, which we hope not to do, Archbishop Tobin can call us back.
Who else celebrated Father Tom Day? Our liturgical choir was absolutely outstanding. All of our students’ attentiveness and engagement in the Mass were high. Our teachers and our students’ parents, the first and primary educators, deserve much credit for fostering reverence and respect during this Mass and all of our weekly all-school Masses.
Joining in the day were many alumni and friends, including Board members, parents, grandparents, and members of our Veterans Committee. I enjoy saying that our alumni veterans and the Veterans Committee are special people whose deep respect for Father Tom and for the values of service and sacrifice inspire us.
Nearly 200 East Deanery middle school students joined us with their teachers and principals. Each East Deanery school brought its 6th, 7th, or 8th grade class to learn about Father Tom and experience Mass on the Scecina campus. These young people and their adult leaders represented the schools of Saint Philip Neri, Holy Cross, Little Flower, Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Spirit, and Saint Michael (Greenfield) in fine fashion.
At the conclusion of Mass, we presented the Father Tom Service Award to Father Bob Gilday, Pastor of Little Flower Parish. We present this award annually to a person who has made Scecina Memorial High School an important part of his or her life and who often, in Father Tom’s words, “gives that little extra.”
In his own words, Father Bob was shocked—a reflection of his humility. As Little Flower pastor and as a member of our Board of Directors, Father Bob often goes the extra mile and is a strong source of insight, support, and advocacy that have helped our school grow and improve during the last several years. The Little Flower students in attendance led the applause for their pastor.
When Archbishop Tobin began his homily, his first word was, “Finally.” He said that he was glad to finally be at our school to celebrate Father Tom Day with our community after we had to postpone the event three times last year during the harsh winter that we all want to forget but are bracing ourselves for again.
The second time that I met Archbishop Tobin after he came to Indianapolis, his words were, “Scecina. I want to visit Scecina.” I appreciated Archbishop Tobin’s unsolicited desire to be part of a school that is similar to high schools and communities where he has ministered previously. The archbishop’s opening word—“Finally”—attests to his desire to be in positive relationship with Scecina Memorial High School.
As he continued, Archbishop Tobin told a story of a friend who was a priest who needed to give a special homily. The priest asked his cousin, a beautiful young girl to come forward and assist him with his homily. She stood by the priest as he spoke. He spoke about love. Eventually, he asked his cousin to imagine that someday a young man would look at her with starry eyes and say that he loved her with all his heart, mind, soul, and might. The priest turned to the girl and asked her what she should do when that occurred. The blushing young girl did not know what to say. The priest came to her rescue. He told her to “Run like h***!”
The point of the story is that only God can love us completely and at all times, and that He created us to love Him from the deepest part of ourselves, as well. Even though we love one another as best we can, only God can love us infinitely, unconditionally, and at all times.
Surely, for us as a Catholic high school, conveying this truth of our Christian faith is as valuable as every diploma that we present at Commencement. The vocation that we all share is to make and fulfill a commitment to know, love, and serve God every day. How, when, and where we know, love, and serve Him is unique to every person.
Only 34 years of age when he died in service to God, freedoms, and his fellow man, Father Thomas Scecina lived his vocation to the fullest. While none of us is likely to endure a multi-mile torturous military death march or to die at sea on a Prisoner of War ship as he did, we all can serve and sacrifice today and tomorrow, just as he did.
Archbishop Tobin pointed out a unique fact about our school. He noted that we are the only high school in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis established to remember and honor a Catholic priest who willingly gave his life for his friends. Please watch the video of his homily.
May we live in such a way that our heavenly diplomas will be written with numerous examples of cheerfully living, in the words of our mission statement, “as servant leaders in the inspiring footsteps of Father Thomas Scecina.”
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy the time with your family and friends. Grateful to everyone who strengthens and spreads our “Scecina Strong” community, I am,