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La Cañada graduates share testimonials, gratitude in interfaith baccalaureate service

With commencements and the world of adulthood beckoning, a group of La Cañada graduates took a moment Tuesday to reflect upon their faith during a baccalaureate service at St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church.

Sponsored by the La Cañada Flintridge Interfaith Ministerial Assn., the annual ceremony allows students of all faiths and from all La Cañada schools to assemble, share scriptures and beliefs from their individual religions and give personal testimonies on the importance of faith.

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The evening was book-ended by performances from the La Cañada High School Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Jeff Brookey and featured opening remarks by LCHS Principal Ian McFeat, who shared how basketball player LeBron James exemplifies a life of faith, borne by consistency.

James left his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 and suffered criticism from fans and team owner Dan Gilbert. Still he persevered, returning to Cleveland in 2014 to continue his successes.

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“He really had to hone his own path and not be distracted by the doubters,” McFeat said. “You, like LeBron, will need to be consistent. Your faith will need this consistency, day in and day out.”

Rev. Megan Katerjian, executive director of Pasadena nonprofit Door of Hope, served as the keynote speaker. She delved into an oft-quoted Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11 — “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” — examining the preceding verse, in which God promises fulfillment only after 70 years have passed.

Katerjian shared her experience with failure and how it caused her to question decisions she’d made in good faith. With patience, she learned her “failure” had grown her into the person she needed to be to fulfill God’s promise for her. She urged graduates to hold tight to their faith through difficult times ahead.

“Some of you are going to feel way in over your heads in your classes,” she said, listing troublesome professors and increased workloads among the usual college pitfalls. “But it’s those exact struggles that will prepare you for a future with hope.”

Personal testimonies included: Mahek Ahmad, Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge; Laura Andersen, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Ellie Fausett, Temple Sinai of Glendale; Saira Singh, Khalsa Care Foundation; Holly Stoner, La Cañada Presbyterian Church; Andre Vartanians, the Armenian Apostolic Church of Crescenta Valley; and Patrick Witteman of St. Bede Church.

In closing, Baccalaureate Committee member Christie Frandsen said everyone is a bird with two wings — one material, one spiritual — that require equal tending.

“Please do not forget your spiritual development,” she said. “That spiritual wing needs to be used and strengthened every day or it will atrophy and you’ll never be able to fly straight in this world.”

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