Each year, the archbishop of San Antonio bestows the Archbishop’s Medallion Award upon a Catholic high school senior from each of the nine Catholic high schools who is committed to assist the school, parish and community to encounter the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to promote Catholic teachings and values.
The medallion is embodied with the archbishop’s coat-of-arms and his crest. It is presented to the student at the baccalaureate ceremony, with recipients also receiving a congratulatory letter from the archbishop as well as an invitation to reception. This year, the gathering for the honorees and their families was held June 6 at the St. John’s Auditorium at Assumption Seminary.
Archbishop’s Medallions recipients for 2017 are: Joshua Arrendondo from Antonian College Preparatory High School, Matthew Friedel from Central Catholic High School, Joseph Duron from Holy Cross of San Antonio, Elizabeth Klein from Incarnate Word High School, Sydney Vickery from St. John Paul II High School, Maeve Coburn Junker from Our Lady of the Hills Catholic High School, Nadia Ascencio from Providence Catholic School, Rhiannon Villarreal from St. Anthony Catholic High School, and Destini Santos from St. Gerard Catholic High School.
“There is not just one specific accomplishment or experience that make these students stand out from their peers, but a lifestyle that can only be defined as ‘walking with Jesus.’ These young men and women illuminate the world with their love for others, their charitable works, and their integrity in living the teachings of the Gospel,” said Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marti West at the medallion reception.
She added that students at the event have directed Teen ACTS retreats, led liturgical choirs, served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, have accumulated hundreds of volunteer hours, with some defying the odds and others overcoming great diversity.
“These servant leaders are also highly dedicated to their studies and apply their God-given talents to athletics and school organizations,” the superintendent said. “The 2017 Archbishop’s Medallion recipients are grounded in faith, rooted by family, and led by the Holy Spirit.”
In his remarks at the medallion ceremony, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, laughed that it is strange part of human life that those things we work the hardest at always seem to surprise us when we finish them. “You have been working to finish your time in High School for years now, and I know you have been looking forward to it,” he smiled. “But now that it is here, I would bet that you are a bit surprised that graduation has come already!”
The archbishop told the recipients and their families that while he was very excited to be awarding them with this honor, he wanted them to know that he was also honored to be there them, because they have been living out archdiocesan priorities in their own lives.
“We hold as a priority the witness and faith of you, our youth and young adults. We have a priority of quality catechesis and formation, which you received and excelled at in at your respective high schools and in your parishes,” he explained. “Lastly, you are being given this award because you have helped make disciples in the mode of the New Evangelization. For all of these reasons, I am honored to be here with you and proud to bestow this award upon you.”
Archbishop Gustavo emphasized to the students that they have accomplished a great beginning in their lives so far, that he was proud of them and had great confidence in them. “God has a wonderful vocation planned for each of you. He has called you to a life that will bring you great joy and will benefit the church and the people of God through you. Be open to that calling!” he stressed. “Keep witnessing to Christ in your colleges and in your workplaces, when you find the future spouse God has for your or when you enter seminary or a religious order. Do not be afraid; you walk in the Light of Christ, and the future is bright.”