As I look back on my 46-year involvement with this school that I have loved since I was a 14–year-old freshman in 1967, my heart is filled with gratitude. Bishop Hendricken has changed thousands of young men’s lives for the better, mine included.
My most cherished memories are of the countless young men who began their high school careers as shy, timid freshmen, and were transformed by the plethora of growth opportunities available at this great school. Growth in the areas of academics, the arts, athletics, and most importantly, spiritual life.
God has been ostracized from many of our institutions today; wishing someone Merry Christmas is taboo, and the 10 Commandments cannot be seen in public. “In God We Trust” was adopted as a national motto in the 1950s, and prayers could be heard in every classroom in America, including public schools. Engel v. Vitale (1962) ended the practice of prayers in public schools, certainly a sad day in our country’s proud history. However, He is alive and well in our Catholic schools. While every school educates the mind and body, Catholic schools also educate the heart and soul. At Bishop Hendricken we pray before the school day, before each class period, before our lunch periods, and at the end of the day. Prayer is not only an important part of each school day, it is a powerful educational tool.
Our Mission is to bring each and every member of our community into a closer relation with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We do this through the education of the total human person; heart, mind, body and soul. Our Mission is the reason that we exist.
There are many facets of our school that make me proud, but perhaps the greatest source of pride is knowing that we have produced 19 men who have become priests of the Catholic Church. Their dedication to spreading the Good News is heartwarming, and we will be forever grateful for their service to their parishoners.
I am retiring, but I will continue to follow the good news that comes out of this school on a daily basis. News of state championships, academic decathlon victories, scholarships to the best colleges and universities in the country, of course. But more importantly, I will read of mission trips where we stand in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, bread lines and assistance at homeless shelters, food and toy drives for the less fortunate, Veterans Day breakfasts where we raise money for veterans issues and Thanksgiving Day dinners served for our neighbors.
Finally, a sincere thank you to all of our teachers, staff members, coaches and moderators, alumni, alumni parents, families and friends who have contributed to the growth of our young men. As we approach our 60th anniversary, Bishop Hendricken stands as a beacon of light in an increasingly dark world.
Please join me in praying that we open our doors and our hearts to God. He is indeed the Truth, the Light, and the Way. As one of my favorite Christmas carols states — “You have everything you need, if you just believe.”
Merry Christmas and God Bless.
John A. Jackson ’71 is the President of Bishop Hendricken High School