Valedictory Address a Tribute to Fr. McGinn
Remarks by Co-Valedictorian Connor J. Maheu of the Class of 2016
Father McGinn, Mr. Kernion, faculty, family, and friends:
We, the Class of 2016, are about to graduate. This marks a point in our lives at which we look forward while also remembering the past. As the word “graduate” suggests, we are about to “take a step forward,” transitioning to an unknown future carrying with us the lessons and the experiences of the past four or five years.
Jesuit is known as the school that will change your life. Indeed, it has formed us in countless ways in our time here. Teachers, coaches, and other members of the Jesuit community have joined with our parents to give us the tools to accomplish much. They have also taught us how to accomplish, how to achieve, how to bear the successes we experience.
At the first morning assembly of this school year, Father McGinn spoke to us about the true nature of humility. He urged us to have a truthful view of who we are and to use our victories and our defeats, not for personal glory, but for personal understanding of God’s plan for us.
Certainly, we have had our failures, but they have only served to shape us into greater men. Through these defeats we have become aware of our flaws, our weaknesses, and have sought to correct them, often resulting in great successes. This past year, we captured state titles in chess, robotics, cross country, lacrosse, and tennis. We produced 43 National Merit Semifinalists, the second most of any graduating class at Jesuit. We are the only class to have been led by a two-term student body president, which is a tall order for any man — especially Joseph Dupré.
Lastly, our class was burning with Blue Jay Spirit, no matter the circumstances. We revived the Spirit Club and brought the passion of The Gizzard to all types of school events. The Blue Jay Boosters were formed, a group of men who put their heart and soul into the Jesuit tradition and never stopped believing even when all hope seemed lost. We have climbed many steps together, sometimes faltering, often soaring. As we move on to our different roads, we will always be united by the many steps we climbed together. We will always be the Class of 2016.
As we take the next step away from Carrollton and Banks, we are not alone in our departure. A man who has been a model of leadership for 21 years is also transitioning to the next step in his professional journey. Yes, Jesuit High School has flourished under Fr. McGinn’s direction. Buildings have been built and rebuilt. Programs have been established and modified to serve us best.
However, Fr. McGinn’s greatest contributions have come not in physical enhancements, but as our teacher of how we might live “for the greater glory of God.” His classroom has been the Chapel of the North American Martyrs during Masses and ceremonies, Traditions Courtyard at morning assembly, the Jesuit auditorium during meetings and assemblies, and at public arenas such as the Pontchartrain Center at so many graduation ceremonies.
In these classrooms he has taught us many lessons about humility, integrity, truth, and our purpose in life. Consider these lessons through the years:
- “The Truth is our best friend.”
- “Become a force challenging the prevailing culture of comfort.”
- “The distinctions and successes you may achieve do not make you a better person – they simply call you to greater service.”
- “You will live a happier life if you avoid arrogance and the illusion that you are the source of your strengths . . .”
- “Be suspicious of the easy choices.”
- “Do not try to change the world until you have first begun to change yourself.”
- “Each day God calls us to greater service.” And finally…
- “It’s all a gift.”
Fr. McGinn, please know that we heard you. Please know that with these lessons in mind, we seek to lead lives full of competence, conscience, and compassion. And for that, we thank you.
Now it is time for us to take one more step: to graduate and move forward with our lives. Jesuit High School will never really leave us. The values and ideals that we have learned here will remain with us forever. No matter what happens, we will always be proud to call ourselves Blue Jays.