The Final Graduation

“Where’s my Scantron?”   Bellowed out from the car parked opposite of me.  I recognized Liz and Pam, driver and passenger, but I couldn’t make out the person who was sitting behind Pam.

I got out of my car, ready to greet my dear colleagues whom I haven’t seen in almost a year when the unknown man revealed himself.

“KEN!”  I yelled.

“Where’s my Scantron?”  He replied back.

We laughed.  I haven’t seen Ken in almost 3 years.  Last I remembered seeing him was when I assisted him in a failed attempt in procuring a Scantron machine for his new school from the recently closed high school seminary, Archbishop Quigley.  Ken was my chemistry teacher who then became my colleague when I taught at the last year of Quigley.

“It’s great seeing you again Ken.”

“You too.” He replied.

We greeted each one another, embracing each other as days of old, before we headed into the church. Standing out of the Bridgeport church were Fr. Zi and Fr. Kalchik, greeting the Quigley family as we entered St. Barbara.

Three Junes have passed since the end of Camelot. And each year, we still come together as a family, thanks to the still active parents, to honor those who never had the opportunity to graduate the hallowed halls and chapel of Quigley Seminary. Tonight will be bitter sweet as we congratulate the final freshman class and graduate the last class.

One by one, students of old would gather in the warm Bridgeport church.  Entering with them would either be their parents, still very active in keeping the spirit of Quigley alive, or a gently aged face of a fellow colleague, faculty member and friend. As each person joined the reunited family, the noise level of the church grew louder with great joy and tribulation.  Long embraces were shared as each person attempted to throw in a warm exchange.  Happiness was present all over, even when the ever grieving sadness of Quigley still lives deep in our hearts.

As mass started, almost 70 people assembled; among them were 13 faculty members, myself included, and a dozen graduating freshmen.  The rest were mixed between parents and graduates dating back to the early 90s.  We all assembled as one Quigley family in St. Barbara’s to congratulate and honor the graduating, though then freshmen, class of 2010.  But we also gathered to remember the greatness of Quigley Seminary.

Sitting in the right side, I couldn’t help myself from having constant flashbacks of my days at Quigley, sitting in the chapel of St. James, both as a student and a faculty member, as we celebrated mass.  Though in different times and places, it became apparent that Quigley lives on strongly in each one of us.  But nothing echoed the spirit stronger when the Salve Regina was sung by the students, alumni and faculty, still from memory, as our voices reached to the tall dome of the church and out the door.  The song of Our Mother.  The song of Quigley.

As Marty called the names of the graduates of the class of 2010, the last class of Quigley, I looked around at my colleagues, my former students and my classmates.  We all knew that this class will never be considered the last graduating class of Quigley Seminary.  However, we know that as a family, that they will forever be the last graduating class.

For on this night, it was officially the end of an era.  The last generation of Quigley students have finally graduated.  Camelot may be closed, but the spirit will live on and the Phoenix, Norsemen and Spartans will all rise again.  And in 80-some years time when the last graduate pass from this world, we will all know that the spirit will continue to live.  It will live on in our stories, our memories and our love for Quigley.

We are Norsemen.  We are Spartans.  We are the Phoenix.

We are the brotherhood and family of Quigley Seminary, Quigley North, Quigley South and  Archbishop Quigley.

We are Quigley.

For more information on Quigley.

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6 thoughts on “The Final Graduation

  1. Scantron apparently spells Scranton, ’cause that’s what I kept reading, so I had to reread the word a bazillion times, ha.

    Reading this is odd, for me, because I can relate to an extent yet can’t completely. I went to a small Catholic school from preschool to eighth grade and a few years after my graduation from there, the school closed its doors. It was certainly a sad moment. But my attachment was to the school, the building, what the facility meant. I was never close to the people.

  2. Reading the words “Salve Regina” struck a nostalgia thunderbolt through my heart since I have been around that song for the majority of my life, and definitely in churches.

    As that’s the case, I can only imagine the brotherhood you share with these men. That is something profound.

    Quigley, a man in Los Angeles toasts to you.

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2010 « .:: phampants

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