Congratulations and Godspeed, Class of 2019!

Denver Catholic Staff

The sun is out, flowers are blooming, and high school students’ palms are sweating — not for cash, (though there’ll probably be plenty of that) but for their diplomas.

Graduation season is here, and seniors everywhere are rejoicing, especially in the Catholic high schools here in Denver. Those late nights of studying, writing, calculating and procrastinating have paid off, and they’re about to embark on the greatest adventure they’ll ever know: discerning and discovering God’s will for their lives.

High school helped to form their minds and hearts, but for the graduates of Bishop Machebeuf, Holy Family, St. Mary’s, Arrupe Jesuit, Regis Jesuit, and Mullen High Schools, this is just the beginning. We’re sure that God has big plans for each and every one of them and that they’re all going to do great things.

Congratulations, class of 2019! May God bless each of you in your future endeavors.

Bishop Machebeuf High School

Graduation date: Friday, May 24, 2019
Scholarships awarded: $5 million
Number of graduates: 75
Number attending college: 70

I will always have a special place in my heart for the Class of 2019. These students showed tremendous leadership and school spirit this year and I am looking forward to hearing about the many accomplishments that are still to come!” –Kellie Carroll, Interim Principal

Holy Family High School

Graduation date: Thursday, May 23, 2019
Scholarships awarded: $14.5 million
Number of graduates: 165
Number attending college: 159
3 enlisting in Navy
Valedictorian: Ceili Opp
Salutatorian: Alexia Simonton

The Class of 2019 has many fantastic accomplishments academically, athletically, artistically, in Mock Trial, in Speech & Debate, in service, and more.  Most impressively, this class provided mature leadership and full buy-in to the Catholic Mission of the school.” –Matt Hauptly, Principal

Arrupe Jesuit High School

Graduation date: Friday, May 24, 2019
Scholarships awarded: $14.1 million
Number of graduates: 92
Number attending college: 92
Valedictorian: Destiny Arias-Buckeye,
Regis University
Salutatorian: Alma Borunda Granillo,
Regis University

Arrupe Jesuit’s class of 2019 has distinguished itself as excellent students, dedicated leaders, young professionals through our Corporate Work Study Program, and as loving young people filled with great faith and hope. We celebrate all the ways their God-given gifts have enriched our school community and send them off as generous men and women for others.”Rev. John Nugent, SJ, Principal

Regis Jesuit High School

Boys Division
Total number of graduates: 230
Graduation date: Sunday, May 19, 2019
Valedictorian: Christopher James Long,
Conner Pettit
Salutatorian: Jacob Thomas Botaish

Girls Division
Total number of graduates: 186
Graduation date: Monday, May 20, 2019
Valedictorian: Megan Lucille Hilbert,
Gianni Eumelia Pacheco
Salutatorian: Lauren Elizabeth Hanley

Total number attending college: 405
Total scholarships awarded: $27 million

After thinking about this for a while now, I have come to the conclusion that being happy is all anyone really wants — to live a joyful life, a life that might not be easy, but a life that is fulfilling.” –Michael Connor Blue, Class of ‘19

Our lives over the next four years will be filled with people who … have never experienced authentic love before. We get to be messengers of God’s love, hope, friendship, community and acceptance. Be authentic! Speak sincerely! Listen thoughtfully! Act compassionately! And always, always choose love! You all are going to do amazing things … I am sure of it, but be known not for your accomplishments, but rather by the way you choose to love. I dare to say that’s the Regis Jesuit way.” –Gianni Eumelia Pacheco, Girls’ Valedictorian

St. Mary’s Academy

Graduation date: Saturday, May 18, 2019
Scholarships awarded: 176 totaling $7.3 million
Number of graduates: 57
Number attending college: 57
St. Mary’s does not appoint Valedictorians or Salutatorians.

Each one of these young women sitting beside me is remarkable. Each one is intelligent, inspiring and — most importantly — a little more themselves because of our time here at St. Mary’s Academy.” –Macey Ann Hayden, Student address

Mullen High School

Graduation date: Saturday, May 25, 2019
Scholarships awarded: $24 million
Number of graduates: 199
Number attending college: 192
Valedictorian: Parker Juels
Salutatorian: Quy Le, Sofia Zinis

Remembering that God is with you will help and inspire you in all that you do.” –St. John Baptist de La Salle

COMING UP: Thomas Fitzsimons: The unsung Catholic Founding Father 

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As our nation celebrates the day of its independence and subsequent founding as a country on July 4, a look back some lesser-knowCatholic history of this historic event seems warranted.  

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin: these are names every American knows. Pull out your wallet and you’ll likely see at least one of their faces on the money you carry aroundAnd while this nation was founded on principles rooted in Christianity, none of these men were Catholic. In fact, of the men history calls the Founding Fathers of America, only two were. 

Many may already be familiar with Founding Father Charles Carroll, a Catholic and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and whose brother John was the first Catholic bishop assigned to what would become the United States. However, Carroll was not the only Catholic who played a role in the founding of our country. The other was Thomas Fitzsimons, a name that is not mentioned much (if at all) in U.S. history classes but deserves to be recognized nonetheless.  

The unwieldy named Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, published in 1887, paints a vivid picture of Fitzsimons and the way his faith informed his character. While the other Founding Fathers were meeting and deliberating about the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons joined the Continental Army anfought on the frontlines against the British army. 

Captain Fitzsimons commanded his company of militia until 1778, when France entered the war. British troops withdrew from Pennsylvania and began to focus on the southern states. It was at this time that Fitzsimons became more involved in politics at the state level. In 1782, he became a delegate at the Continental Congress. In 1786, he was elected as a Pennsylvania state legislator and served for three terms until 1789. In 1787, he was selected to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Congress, where the United States Constitution was written and ratified. He, along with Daniel Carroll, were the only two Catholics to sign to Constitution. 

Born in Belfast, Ireland in 1741, not much else is known about Fitzsimons’ family. He had three brothers – Nicholas, Andrew and John – and one sister, Ann. He and his family immigrated to America as early as 1760, where they became residents of Philadelphia. It was here that Fitzsimons would stake his claim as a businessman and politician. 

In 1763, Fitzsimons married Catharine Meade, whose brother, George Meade, would later go into business with Fitzsimons and build one of the most successful commercial trade houses in Philadelphia. Throughout his life, Fitzsimons was in close correspondence with Bishop John Carrollthese letters revealed insights into the Catholic Founding Father’s personal life. In a letter to Bishop Carroll in 1808, Fitzsimons wrote of being married to Catharine for 45 years. Additionally, local baptismal records show that he and Catharine stood as sponsors at the baptisms of three of Meade’s children. 

In 1774, Fitzsimons began his first foray into politics when he was elected as one of 13 Provincial Deputies who were given authority to call a general meeting of the citizens. It is believed he was the first Catholic to have ever held public office in the budding United States. Even so, anti-Catholic bigotry was common at the time and did exist within some of his fellow statesmen, such as John Adams, who once said in an address to the people of Great Britain that the Catholic faith was “a religion that has deluged your island in blood and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.” 

Fitzsimons’ first stint in public office was brief, only lasting from May to July, but it was a foreshadowing his future involvement in state affairs. As the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Fitzsimons formed a company of soldiers to fight against the British army. He was assigned to the Third Battalion under Col. Cadwalader and Lieut. Col. John Nixon, who was the grandson of a Catholic. Behind the scenes, as George Washington and the like organized committees and framed what would become the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons ascended to the rank of Captain and continued to serve his country as a soldier and patriot.

In addition to his tenure as a commanding officer and politician, Fitzsimons also found success in other ventures. In 1781, he helped found the Bank of North America, the United States’ first de facto central bank, and served as its director until 1803. The latter years of his life were spent primarily in private business, but he maintained a consistent interest in public affairs; even Fitzsimons wasn’t exempt from the old adage, “once a politician, always a politician.” 

Through all of these endeavors, and even after befalling troubled financial times in the early 1800s, Fitzsimons remained a diligent philanthropist. He gave immense support to St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia and was invested in the improvement of public education in the commonwealth. As one of his contemporaries wrote after his death in 1811, “he died in the esteem, affection and gratitude of all classes of his fellow citizens.” 

Fitzsimons was buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia, which is now part of Independence National Historical Park. His name may not be a household one like Washington or Jefferson, but Fitzsimons can be remembered as something of an unsung Founding Father of the United Statesa man whose life of quiet faith, humble service and admirable patriotism exemplifies the values that this country was founded upon in a simple yet profound way.