ORLANDO | For the recent graduates of Bishop Moore and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High Schools, their senior year was a testimonial to their strength, resilience, and devotion to their faiths they will carry with them long after receiving their diplomas.
With the global pandemic forcing a sudden obstacle to their schooling, these students turned to the guidance of their inspirational teachers and clergy that helped them stay focused during unsure times. Speaking truthfully, these college bound students of the Dioceses of Venice and Orlando expound how they overcame doubt and of their futures in college. Videos of the interviews are online at www.thefloridacatholic.org/multimedia/videos. Read here to get a glimpse of the answers the four students provided.
Along with a targeted effort ensuring students learn academics, it is the Catholic influence that powers these students with the faith to accomplish anything.
“Definitely the availability of religion teachers to have one-on-one conversations about any topic of our faith has been extremely crucial and vital to my development,” said Michael Bassett of Bishop Moore. The future University of Central Florida student, who will be studying mechanical engineering and molecular biology, said about a recent conversation with Father Anthony Aarons “it was one of the most essential and vital conversations I’ve had throughout high school,” because “he put a serious doubt of mine to rest” concerning the Eucharist by explaining that the holy Communion “is for those who aren’t worthy. It’s for those who are trying to find God, to find their purpose in life through him.”
Meoshe Bailey, who will study pre-med at the University of South Florida, discusses her initial “not very serious” approach to her Catholic faith upon first entering her high school years.
“You almost forget that there is a God and having to pray everyday reminds you constantly there is someone there to back you up even if you feel that you can’t back yourself up.” She acknowledges the teachers, staff, clergy, and students for helping her with her faith. “Kudos to Bishop Moore for that because that has really helped me through some hard days, some hard weeks.”
Valedictorian and upcoming student at the University of Florida, Grace Callahan, credits the Catholic influence at Cardinal Mooney for “strengthening my Catholic faith because we are in a community of other people who also share in the Catholic faith,” which has led her to “practicing it more at home.”
These Catholic communities, operated by the impressive teams of supportive teachers, are vital in keeping their Catholic students interested in the faith and focused on thinking long-term.
Credit to Teachers
Senior class president of Cardinal Mooney, Sam Hall, proudly endorsed his teachers. “I felt like I had a good relationship with most, if not all, of my teachers,” said the construction management major at the University of Florida. Hall’s gratitude included all of the school staff, not just his teachers. “The one’s that stood out to me were…our academic advisors, our guidance counselors, the staff members that always had positive attitudes, always put a smile on my face.”
Inspired by his teacher’s influence helped guide Michael Lunin, salutatorian and future biology major at the University of Florida, into the high achieving students he is today. “This (choice of major) is definitely affected by the teachers and classes that I took here at Cardinal Mooney.” Lunin’s chemistry teacher, Mr. Hedel, “taught me a lot of very valuable lessons. One thing was to be able to admit when you are wrong. He taught me to step back, look at my mistakes, and say here is where I went wrong and here is how I can fix it.”
Future nursing student at the University of Alabama Micaela Helms notes why she enjoyed her years at a Catholic school. “I will remember these teachers forever,” said the Bishop Moore student. “They have taught me some of the most critical life lessons that I wouldn’t normally just get from a normal class, a normal lecture. It’s really through those conversations that I’ve had because if I’ve had doubts or if I’ve had a bad day and I just needed something to get it off my chest…and that is what makes Bishop Moore the difference between the standard normal public school and a Catholic school.”
Together with their unbreakable faith and confidence in their academics, these Catholic students are anxious to make their own paths in the world.
To the Future
“I have learned so many things through attending Cardinal Mooney, but one thing that has always stuck with me was determination and perseverance,” said Ava Frank, a future engineering student. “This was something that I had to build throughout the four years I attended Mooney and not something that was plainly taught to me. Determination and perseverance that came to me at Cardinal Mooney and I am really blessed for that.”
“Your education is a holistic sense,” Bailey said. “It’s more than academics. It’s athletics. It’s a social game essentially. It works on your whole mentality and here we get to work on spiritually. Being able to remember that especially in my last year of high school is one of the biggest things I will ever take from my experience here at Bishop Moore.”
“Learning to trust in God more, especially in my academic endeavors has really been quite vital to my developmental these past four years,” Bassett said. “Just remembering to keep him in the forefront of my life as I venture off into different environments will definitely keep me grounded, at the very least, for years to come.”