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​Students have shown they are ‘Disciples of the Lord’ in receiving awards, says archbishop

July 11, 2019 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Catholic Schools, Hope for the Future, In the Press

Students have shown they are ‘Disciples of the Lord’ in receiving awards, says archbishop

Each year, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, bestows the Archbishop’s Medallion Awards upon a Catholic High School senior from each of Catholic high school who is committed to assist the school, parish and community to encounter the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to promote Catholic teachings and values.

The medallion is embodied with the archbishop’s coat-of-arms and his crest and is presented to the student at the baccalaureate ceremony. Recipients also receive a congratulatory letter from the archbishop, and he hosts a reception for the recipients of the medallion and their families on the first Tuesday in June.

This year, that gathering took place June 4 at the Assumption Seminary Student Center Auditorium.

Students honored were Diego Aldrete of Antonian College Preparatory High School, Caitlyn Rodriguez of Holy Cross of San Antonio, Avenila Petri of Incarnate Word High School, Mason Sirianni of Our Lady of the Hills Regional Catholic High School in Kerrville, Franchesca Christilles of Providence Catholic School, Nathan L. Cano of St. Anthony Catholic High School, and Cameron Castilleja and St. John Paul II High School.

Also honored but unable to attend the presentation were Paul Elbayeh of Central Catholic High School and Gabriela Salas of St. Gerard High School.

Established in 2000, criteria for the awards are that the student must be Catholic and be confirmed, be attending a Catholic high school for a minimum of three academic years, be actively involved in parish and community service programs, and demonstrate spiritual leadership within the school, parish, or community.

A teacher or administrator nominates student, writes a justification for the nomination, and the student’s pastor endorses the nomination. A selection process by the administration is used to determine the recipient.

At the ceremony on June 4, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marti West praised the honorees for the parish, school, and community involvement.

Before the Synod on Youth and Young Adults last year, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the young people of the Church. In it he said, “Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey?”

Archbishop Gustavo emphasized that, during this time when the students are celebrating success in school and are looking toward what is next, the pope’s question is even more important: “Have you encountered the Lord’s invitation to follow him?”

He explained that this year the archdiocese has been focusing on “encounter.” “This is central to our faith. We are believers in Jesus because we have had an encounter with Jesus. We have felt his love, received his forgiveness, been overwhelmed by his mercy, or been inspired by his powerful care for us,” the archbishop said. “This encounter is what drives us. The church’s teachings are powerful and important, and our rituals and practices are life-giving. But these only have power because they come from the Lord -- from the church’s encounter with Jesus.”

The San Antonio prelate again asked the youth, “So, sisters and brothers, have you had an encounter with the Lord? Have you heard his voice or felt the urge to follow him?” He replied, “This is the greatest treasure you have in your life. Spend some time in the next few days remembering your encounters with Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember well and to go back in your mind and heart. Relive those moments in a new way.”

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit told the honorees and their families that they have been blessed by God and have been called to serve him in so many ways. “The next chapter in your life is going to be amazing. But remember to take your most important treasure with you,” he stressed. “The encounter with the Lord will help you in your encounters with others out in the world. Jesus has called you to go with him to the world out there, and to show them the beauty of God’s love and goodness.”

Archbishop Gustavo urged his listeners to give thanks to God for their encounters with him and for your talents and achievements. “Congratulations to all of you. May this be another encounter with God and with the church,” he concluded. “Thank you for your faithfulness and good work. May God bless you in all that is yet to come.”