On Saturday, May 22, Loyola Academy celebrated its 111th Commencement Exercises at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. With family and friends present, 479 members of the Class of 2021 gathered one last time as classmates and departed as Loyola alumni.
The location of this year’s graduation was specifically chosen because of its large size which enabled social distancing for students and family pods. In addition, for the health and safety of graduates and their families, the Allstate Arena required masks to be worn throughout the duration of the ceremony.
Music accompanied the Class of 2021 as they processed, dressed in black or white dresses and white tuxedo jackets in accordance with a time-honored Loyola tradition. The ceremony began with the national anthem, and Rev. Stanisław Czarnecki, a member of the Society of Jesus and Loyola’s Campus Ministry Department, delivered the invocation.
Loyola Academy Principal Mr. Charles W. Heintz then welcomed guests: “So, Ramblers, what a year! You made it. The conclusion of one journey, and the beginning of another.” He explained the significance of “cannonball moments” as they relate to the life of St. Ignatius, whose legs were shattered by a cannonball at the battle of Pamplona in 1521—a traumatic injury that mark the beginning of his spiritual journey and the great conversion of his life from soldier to servant of Christ. “The ups and downs of the last 14 months have taught us that sometimes life unexpectedly hits you and knocks you down….But I hope you see that ‘cannonball moments’ can open new doors or show us strength we never knew we had, and give us the motivation to become the people God meant us to be.”
Mr. Heintz then introduced valedictorian Isabella M. Lombardo, headed to Washington University in Saint Louis in the fall. In her valedictorian’s address, Lombardo encouraged her classmates to recall their moments of growth at Loyola: “What were some of those moments that made you grow? Made you uncomfortable, but in a good way? Was it auditioning for that ensemble or big solo? Maybe it was meeting someone unfamiliar during Arrupe, or in the quiet moments prepping for an intense game against New Trier. Maybe it was in the big moments we shared as a class, like our last day all together on campus, or in the small, incidental graces of every day that we took for granted. Think of those times and the people who surrounded you when you felt your best and hold on to that...those moments reveal glimpses of who you truly are.”
After the valedictorian’s address, Mr. Heintz presented the Graduate at Graduation Award, given annually to two well-rounded seniors, one young man and one young woman, who best resemble the Jesuit ideal of being intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, physically fit and committed to doing justice. The 2021 Graduate at Graduation Award recipients were Carla Flores, who will attend Cornell University next year, and Declan Dunham, who will study at Creighton University.
Mr. Heintz then introduced the 2021 Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes a teacher for his or her outstanding contribution to the formation of students as voted by the senior class. The award was presented to Theology Teacher Mr. Trevor Clark.
Before diplomas were conferred, Loyola Academy President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ, delivered his remarks to the Class of 2021: “In your years at Loyola, we have challenged you to cultivate habits of reflection and prayer and through that you have come to a deeper awareness of God’s presence in your story and the daily companionship of Jesus. So, now we reflect and gather the graces of the four years you have spent at Loyola. Faces and stories come to mind…new friends, teammates, and teachers. The lessons learned, the challenges faced, the joys experienced come to our awareness. In a special way, we remind ourselves of the things we missed this past year and we commit to never forget the lessons of these days and the renewed priorities that have emerged as a result of our cannonball experience.”
Diplomas were presented by Fr. McGrath and Ms. Nancy E. Paridy, chair of Loyola’s Board of Trustees. In keeping with a cherished Loyola Academy tradition, sons and daughters and grandchildren of Loyola and Marillac alumni—and those of trustees, faculty and staff—received their diplomas from these individuals, handed down from one generation to another. Assistant Principal for Student Services Mrs. Terri Jackson and Mr. Tim Kane ’86 of the English department read the names of graduates.
Notably, graduate Aidan Hulseman ’21
marks the thirteenth and final Rambler to be sent through Loyola Academy by parents Patrice and Paul J. Hulseman ’78
. To read more about the Hulseman Family’s commitment to Catholic, Jesuit education, click here
A roar of applause erupted after the last diploma was conferred and a spirit of excitement swirled the arena. Mr. Heintz thanked the Class of 2021 for its extraordinary leadership and offered them a reminder: “Now the real work begins. To humbly carry forth God’s will for your life, using your gifts, your knowledge, your work ethic and your heart for service and social justice.”
As the graduates met with family and friends, words from Fr. McGrath’s earlier remarks still echoed: “Ramblers, today we commission you, we send you to be hope for the world. We have trained you well. You are ready. We send you into a world of noise and division as pilgrims who know how to dig deeper, reflect well, and experience God in all things. May you know the grace to discern well that which matters most and ultimately, always, to act with compassion and love. We send you to be hope for the world.”
We wish all our graduates the best as they embark on the next chapter!
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