Skip To Main Content


Baccalaureate Mass

Baccalaureate Mass

Jesuit High School celebrated Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2016 on Tuesday (May 24) in St. Anthony’s Chapel.

The Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Bishop Robert Lynch, was the celebrant. With his impending retirement, it was the final time Bishop Lynch will celebrate Baccalaureate Mass at Jesuit.

It also was the final Baccalaureate Mass in St. Anthony’s Chapel. The nearly six-decade-old chapel will be replaced by the Chapel of the Holy Cross during Phase I of the Campus Master Plan, which begins this summer. The seniors each were given a wooden cross, made from a pew in St. Anthony’s Chapel and imprinted with the iconic Jesuit chapel logo, and Jesuit president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. also presented a cross to Bishop Lynch.

The 189 students in the Class of 2016 comprise the largest graduating class in Jesuit’s 117 years. Graduation is Wednesday (May 25) at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa.

View below a photo slideshow from Baccalaureate Mass, and below that a transcript of Bishop Lynch's homily:


May 24, 2016 

Jesuits throughout the world celebrate today the Feast of our Lady of the Way. This day for the society reminds them of a mural, an icon of Our Lady and our Lord which can be found in the Church of the Gesu, in Rome. When Ignatius of Loyola, the founder as you know of the Society of Jesus, arrived in Rome he was attracted to a piece of art which stood in a small chapel in the City called Santa Maria della strada. He would often pray in the presence of the image, seeking God's will in his life and for the community of men he was gathering. It was a special place for him and she, Our Lady was a central figure in his prayer life.

In 1568 the Chapel was demolished to make way for the present Church of the Gesu, the spiritual headquarters of the Jesuits but the image so special to Ignatius was preserved and when the great Church was completed sixteen years later, there she was where she can be seen today should you ever visit Rome.

How fitting on this your Baccalaureate night you gather for one final time on this feast to say good-bye to one another and to this special place where each day the last four years began and where you have gathered for Mass, for prayer, for funerals of alumni and friends. As you take your leave of Jesuit High School and she takes her leave of this chapel, we might do well to spend a moment or two reflecting on what we have just heard.

Wisdom in the first reading takes the form of a woman admonishing her son that if he chooses to walk the way of righteousness, he will never be alone. God who was present at the beginning of life's race will accompany you throughout your remaining days if you embrace, accept and accentuate what you have learned here.

Our contemporary world is full of allurements and some would say many are evil. Shun and avoid them and you will become beacons of hope in a world desperately seeking some ray of light and hope. Live your life for others, walk always in the law of the Lord, do good and avoid evil and you will be evidence of and testimony to God dwelling in the human race.

As contemporary politics is sadly showing, it is so easy to tear down and so difficult to build up. If the society in which we live today is to become better and survive to thrill and challenge another day, then what has begun here will be replaced as was that small Church or Chapel in Rome by something far more beautiful for God.

Our Church is graced with an ordained son of Ignatius at its helm calling you and I to be ministers of mercy in a too often cold and shrill world. Francis asks us to be present to and help the stranger in our midst, the homeless seeking shelter from the heat, the hungry asking not for a banquet but a piece of bread. Many of you graduates have seen their faces at Pinellas Hope or Belle Glade - don't forget them now that a new structural challenge is about to begin in your life.

Reflect forever in your heart the experience of your Kairos retreat. Make that moment and that memory the image of how God loves you even if the place, the professors, the program of your life changes. As did the shepherds of the Gospel, you stepped for a time out of the familiar that you could easily see with the same God seen in Bethlehem by those simple men of old. Walk always in the way of the Lord! Closing the chapter in the Book of Life on Jesuit High School means opening another on how you might assist the Lord in doing good, practicing virtue not vice, being an agent of mercy not of division.

I am very aware also that tonight marks the passing of this space, this chapel. Like the little Chapel of Santa Maria della Strada in Rome four and a half centuries ago, what we are and what we are doing tonight will give way to a larger and more grand place of worship and convocation but the core, the heart of this chapel like that painting of our Lady of the Way will last, will be given new life, will beck other generations of Jesuit students to connect with their God in a sacred space and to exchange peace with one another. What has happened here will not be lost in the dust of destruction and excavation but like the Phoenix will rise to signal a new dawn for this school.

Finally, having reflected on your graduation passing and the end of this chapel, allow me a personal, final word. On Friday of this week, by strict church law, I must write to our Jesuit father in Rome, Francis, and ask to retire and next year a new shepherd will find his way to this community to find Jesus in the midst of this campus and its students. I have always been proud of this high school and happy to have it as a part of this diocese. I shall take away nothing but positive good memories of Fathers James Bradley, Donald Saunders, Joseph Doyle and Richard Hermes plus the score of scholastics and priests who have served here.

To Father Hermes I wish to offer special thanks for he is generously a priest to my priests, spiritual director to some and counselor to others. But most of all, he has instilled a truly Catholic identity in this school through his support for the retreat and day of recollection experiences, a fine theology/religion faculty and presence on mission trips to South Florida and Pinellas county. He will see this coming, challenging transition phase through to a fast and successful conclusion and your sons will inherit his legacy.

Tonight I take my leave as bishop knowing that for the foreseeable future Jesuit High School will stand tall for the great honor and glory of God.

  • All School News
  • Homepage News
  • Spiritual Life News