“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“Only ourselves!” Father Gregory Oligschlaeger told the graduates of Monroe City High School.
Fr. Oligschlaeger, pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Monroe City and St. Stephen Parish in Indian Creek, preached the Gospel reading and gave the main address at the school’s 2021 Baccalaureate celebration in Holy Rosary Church.
Thirty-nine of the 80 members of the Class of 2021 attended.
Fr. Oligschlaeger reminded the graduating seniors that they’re a particularly talented, faith-filled group.
“God has prepared you for this moment,” he told them. “He’s giving you the power to go out into the world and do great things.
“So as you go forth from this place, don’t be thinking, ‘I can make a difference,’” the priest instructed. “It’s, ‘Christ will make a difference through me.’”
He noted that each of the students has a solid foundation of faith.
He told them to let that faith guide them and give them courage to make big decisions that will make a difference.
“God will help you and give you what you need, if you trust in His power, in the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Holy Rosary Parish hosted this year’s event, which was sponsored by the Monroe City Ministerial Alliance.
Graduating seniors Clara Minor and Connor Pabst of Holy Rosary Parish gave student testimonies during the celebration.
Annamarie Quinn, a graduating senior from St. Stephen in Indian Creek, offered closing comments.
Several Holy Rosary and St. Stephen parishioners in the senior class sang in the choir.
Clara said she grew up in a “super tight-knit” Christian family that gave her love and support.
“I had great parents who constantly made me feel loved, and I was even blessed with stepparents, who I call my bonus parents, along the way,” she said.
Her life changed while she was attending her second Steubenville Youth Conference in 2018.
She sensed her calling while taking part in Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament with 5,000 other people — an activity she described as “You just soak up all of the grace that is being poured onto you.”
“I was kneeling there with my hands up, praising our Lord and accepting all the gifts He was throwing at me, and then I had an urge,” she said. “I had the urge to stand up and sing as loud as I could.”
She was afraid.
“But He wanted ME to stand up and praise him and inspire others,” she said. “So without effort, He stood me up. I sang loudly. I lifted my hands up even higher and I praised his name.”
She opened her eyes and noticed people around her also being drawn to their feet, emboldened by her example.
“I was so moved,” she said. “I was inspired in so many ways.”
From that time forward, she has felt called to be a youth minister, “to speak in front of youth and inspire them as a living.”
“I trusted the Lord, which has made decisions about my future a lot easier,” she told her classmates. “Trusting the Lord in the future will make your lives easier, too. When in doubt, pray about it.”
“Run to Him”
Connor said he grew up in a solid faith environment in his family and Catholic school, but he wasn’t always as strong and passionate about his faith as he is today.
That changed in 2013 when he and his family moved in with their great-grandparents on a farm outside town.
“What I did not know was that they would become very important to me and become some of the most caring, inspirational, faith-filled people I know,” he said.
His great-grandparents became some of his biggest supporters and role models.
“I got to watch, firsthand, two of the most faith-filled people I knew show me how to live my life for the Lord, just like they did,” Connor said. “They taught me the importance of my faith, along with countless life lessons such as to always be kind to others, live life to the fullest, and of course glorify God in everything I do.”
He took their deaths in 2016 hard, but came to realize that their illnesses were what God had used to draw his family there to help them.
“I will forever cherish the time I spent with them and do my best to make them proud,” he said. “They gave me the push in my faith that I needed.”
He urged his classmates to appreciate the people around them who support them in their faith journey.
“And remember, everything happens for a reason,” he noted. “I know it can be hard at times, but always trust the plan the Lord has for you in your life.”
He reminded them that they’re never alone.
“God is right there, fighting your battles with you,” he said. “Run to Him. If you trust in Him and let Him take control, you will be amazed at what good He does in your life.”
“This and every day”
Deacon Michael Long, who assists Fr. Oligschlaeger in Monroe City and Indian Creek, led the closing prayer.
He thanked God for the friends and happy memories the soon-to-be graduates had made over the past four years.
He offered up in prayer and thanksgiving the teachers, mentors, family and loved ones whose energy, skill and love had helped the students come this far.
“As this chapter on our life closes, so a new one begins,” he prayed on the students’ behalf. “We present ourselves like an open book before You. Come and inscribe Your words of life into our lives.
“Fill our minds with Your thoughts, fill our bodies with Your strength, fill our hearts with Your dreams, that we might eternally love and serve You this day and every day,” he prayed.
Students then were invited to step forward to receive a blessing.
The Monroe City Ministerial Alliance is made up of pastors from local congregations, including: Holy Rosary, First Baptist Church, Monroe City Christian Church, Monroe City United Methodist Church, Our Savior Lutheran Church, and Promiseland Family Church.
Some of the information in this report came from an article in the Lake Gazette newspaper (https://www.lakegazette.net/) by Mandi Kindhart-White, editor/reporter.