At baccalaureate service, Albion grads get blessings

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 June 2023 at 5:54 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Father Richard Csizmar, a priest at Holy Family Parish in Albion, offers a blessing for Chris Sacco during a baccalaureate service at Holy Family Church on June 4.

Several local clergy members offered to pray with members of the Class of 2023. The service is voluntary for the class members. Albion is one of the few local school districts with a baccalaureate service led by church leaders.

The Albion High School Select Choir sings “Only In Sleep.” A senior, Clara Bolton, played “How Great Thou Art” on her tuba and senior Audrey Pask played “Amazing Grace” on her clarinet.

Maya Knaak lights a candle as part of the baccalaureate service. Susan Boring, pastor of the Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church, is at right.

The soon-to-be grads were told the flames were representative of light.

“God’s light and love will be with you at all times,” said the Rev. Susan Thaine, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Albion. God’s light will shine in all the dark places and you will not be alone.”

The Rev. Marsha Rivers, pastor of the First Baptist Baptist Church, puts a cross necklace on Andrew Udertiz. Each of the students received a cross necklace. About 25 members of the Class of 2023 attended the service.

The Rev. Marsha Rivers delivered the keynote address, “And the Cloud Goes Wild.” Rivers is a 1992 Albion graduate. Before leading the local Baptist church, she worked as a newspaper reporter, a college admissions counselor, editor of a magazine, and led non-profit agencies, among her career arc.

“I’ve done lots of things and traveled to lots of places and met lots of people, and I trust that you will, too,” she told the seniors. “Even if your path is plainer, clearer, or more direct than mine has been, I hope and pray that you will know this — the one thing you truly need to know to pass the test of life: You are loved. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you are loved by the good, kind, compassionate God who created the universe, including you.”

Rivers said the many people we encounter in life make up our “cloud.” She noted some of the graduates’ parents were her classmates and are part of her “cloud,” serving as witnesses of God’s love and compassion.

“When we know, deep-deep-down and for-sure-for-sure, that we are loved, we can navigate life, no matter how circuitous it turns out to be; and we can handle the hardships — which, I am sorry to tell you, are inevitable,” she said. “But above all, when we accept and understand and believe the truth that we are loved, we develop the capacity to love God, love ourselves, and love others in return.”

The Rev. Brenda Bierdeman, center, of the Albion Free Methodist Church prays with an Albion senior. Jason Tarnowski, pastor of the Albion Free Methodist Church, is at left, and David Beach, pastor of the Gaines Carlton Community Church, is at right.