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La Cañada grads reflect on spirituality during Interfaith Baccalaureate Service

Taking a brief interlude between the crunch of finals and upcoming commencement ceremonies, a group of La Cañada graduates paused Monday to contemplate their spirituality during an interfaith baccalaureate service held at St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church.

Sponsored by the La Cañada Flintridge Interfaith Ministerial Assn., the annual ceremony allows students from La Cañada High School and area learning institutions to congregate, share scriptures and beliefs from their respective religions and give personal testimonies on the role of faith in their lives.

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A procession dressed in caps and gowns entered the church to “Daniel, Servant of the Lord,” sung by the La Cañada High School choral singers under the direction of Jeff Brookey.

In opening remarks, LCHS Principal Jim Cartnal shared insights learned from his years as a teacher and a father.

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He urged graduates to work hard, be fierce about things they really care about and not overlook the minutiae that lay behind major accomplishments.

“Paying attention to those details require you to be present in the things of your life,” Cartnal said. “In paying attention to detail you have the ability to make good become great things.”

Todd Reynolds, a graduate of La Cañada High School’s Class of 1996 who coaches children through the La Cañada Baseball & Softball Assn. and serves with a number of local philanthropic groups, shared a moving personal message to graduates as the evening’s keynote speaker.

He advised them to continually contemplate the most pressing question of life, “Does God exist?” and acquainted them with a universal truth he’s experienced firsthand — we best serve ourselves when we serve others. Succeeding in life isn’t about believing or conveying superiority but about finding one’s best life through serving others, Reynolds said.

Soon-to-be La Cañada High graduates hold hands during an annual Interfaith Baccalaureate Service for the class of 2019 at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada Flintridge on Monday.
Soon-to-be La Cañada High graduates hold hands during an annual Interfaith Baccalaureate Service for the class of 2019 at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada Flintridge on Monday. (Tim Berger / La Cañada Valley Sun)

“You’re not the prettiest. You’re not the strongest. You’re not the smartest or richest. In so many ways, you could convince yourself you’re actually not enough just the way you are,” he said.

“But you are. The light and the love that exudes from you, especially in moments of compassion and kindness, that version of you that lifts and loves other people, that makes you enough,” he added.

Personal testimonies included: Taimur Ali, Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge; Kimberly Callister, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Isabel de la Torre Roehl, St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church; Gabriel Drill, Temple Sinai of Glendale; and Ryan Graves, La Cañada Presbyterian Church.

Thanking participants and baccalaureate committee members in closing remarks, organizer Christie Frandsen remembered an exhortation once made by beloved children’s television personality Mr. Rogers, who encouraged people to take 10 seconds to silently thank the many people who helped them become the people they are.

“Every day express your gratitude out loud to those around you,” she told graduates. “It could save your life and, honestly, it could change the world.”

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