St. Joseph’s Academy seniors, freshmen and their families gathered in the Activity Center on September 20 to celebrate the traditional Candlelight Ceremony. Part of SJA’s Big Sis/Little Sis program, the evening ceremony symbolizes the passing of Academy traditions from senior big sisters to their freshmen little sisters.
Principal Stacia Andricain welcomed the large gathering, calling the ceremony one of the Academy’s most treasured traditions. “The Candlelight Ceremony enables us to celebrate the relationship between the freshman and senior classes,” Andricain said. “As freshmen little sisters become new members of the SJA community, senior big sisters are given the responsibility of serving as leaders and mentors. This ceremony marks the beginning of new-found relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Senior Lily Abadie said the ceremony serves to remind members of the Academy community of their loyalty to the values of sanctity, joy and action. “As the Academy celebrates the 150th anniversary of our founding in 1868 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, we know we are part of a rich and storied history,” she said. “We have found mention of the Big Sis/Lil Sis program dating back to 1910. We are humbled and excited to be part of a tradition that stretches back more than a century.”
SJA President Jan Rhorer Breen said the ceremony enables the senior class to join the SJA tradition of passing “the light” to the Academy freshman class. She commended the freshmen for quickly embracing SJA’s traditions and reminded the seniors of their important responsibility to help their little sisters grow in the mission of SJA: faith development, academic excellence and personal growth. “We celebrate the ideals which all Academy students and alumnae are called to uphold, and we are mindful of the traditions we all hold so dear,” she said.
Ella Barhorst, senior class president, gave the keynote address. She reflected on the importance of the classes coming together to pass on the traditions and spirit of SJA. “We have been blessed with the opportunity to grow in our faith and our knowledge at a four-time National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence,” she said. “Through God’s love and guidance, we have felt the sanctity of hope and power of prayer. We have shared in moments of joy, both great and small. Let us not take for granted the simple pleasures in our lives. These are the moments that get us through a school day or simply put a smile on our faces.”
Senior Aliya Trapp led the gathering in prayer. Senior Sydney Clebert reflected on sanctity and the integral role it plays in the lives of Academy students.
Senior Nikki Manuel read from the book of Matthew, and senior Leanne Livingston read from the gospel according to John. Seniors Tori Collier and Lacy Wendell led the prayers of the faithful, and senior Corrine Hutchinson offered the closing prayer.
Seniors Catherine Contini and Kate Michel explained the symbolism of the lighting of the candles and the passing of the flame. Senior Addison Bruce led her classmates in the senior pledge then directed them to share their light with their freshmen little sisters. Freshman Claire Pizzalato led the freshman pledge.
The evening ended with the singing of the Alma Mater, led by senior Alexandra Thibodeaux.
Aimee Cronan directed the sophomore and junior members of the SJA Liturgy Choir. Martha O’Hara served as pianist.
Coordinating the evening’s activities were Erika Angarita, Aimee Cronan, Mary Beth Elfert, Kate Hutcheson, Angelle Terrell and Jackie Zeller.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine