There is a picture on my desk at home, that has sat on every desk I have had since I graduated from De Smet 37 years ago. This picture is very similar to many of the pictures you will be taking outside of the New Cathedral after your graduation ceremony this evening. The picture is of me and six of my best friends from the Class of 1982. All of us are excited, smiling, incredibly young looking and handsome (especially this guy on the end with a full head of hair who looks a lot like the 18-year-old version of me). One of my friends in the picture, John Husmann, is here today celebrating the graduation of his son, Danny, and I would like to recognize both of them. (Don’t worry, Huss. I won’t tell any of your secrets because I know that you know all of mine.) All of us in this picture were excited about graduating, getting ready for an awesome summer and then going off to our respective colleges.
Life was really good that day as it is for all of you today.
When I look at this picture, I automatically smile because it represents so many things in my life which are important to me. I look at this picture and am simultaneously reminded of the past, present and future. This picture brings back the memories that I share with all of the guys in the frame and all the experiences we had in our four years at De Smet. This was a great time in our lives when we were transformed from boys to young men in the Jesuit tradition.
None of us knew each other before we came to De Smet from all over metro St. Louis, but we bonded...just like many of you have bonded, either in the classroom, on an athletic field, or in an after-school activity. We learned who we were, what we could do if we put our minds to it, and were given many of the intellectual tools to accomplish our goals.
De Smet Jesuit became more to us than just a physical place where we went to school. It became the place we made lifelong friends, took our dates to our first dance, started thinking about what we wanted to be when we grew up and became men for others.
I still smile when I look at this picture because the guys in the picture are still some of my best friends today. We still get together and talk about our lives and our families. We tell stories of the good old days and lie to each other about how great we were in high school. The good news is, that we have known each other for so long, we can’t embellish any story too much. At this point in our lives we are usually talking about our own children and all of the challenges and successes they have in their lives. We have had many great times together and have been at each other’s weddings, children’s baptisms and athletic events and birthday parties and so on. Life is better when it is shared with great friends.
I still smile when I look at this picture because I know that these guys will always be part of my life. As I imagine my life next year, ten years, or 20 years from now, I am confident that the same fellow Spartans that I have counted as best of friends for the past 40 years will be with me on my journey as it continues. We will continue to celebrate family milestones, hopefully Blues’ Stanley Cup victories and future De Smet state championships. They will be by my side through the good times and the bad and will continue to be men for and with others.
There are many great things you will take away from your time at De Smet Jesuit, but the most valuable and longest lasting will be the friendships you have made and the relationships you have forged over common goals and purpose. Life is better when it is shared with great friends.
I want to congratulate all the graduating seniors and welcome them into the De Smet Alumni Association as the Class of 2019 and invite you to attend our quarterly meetings and get involved. There are always three things at our alumni association meetings that are in abundance. One is plenty of food. Two is plenty of beer (when you are of age), and three is the opportunity to forge new relationships that can last a lifetime.
The alumni association has a tradition of giving all the graduating seniors a laundry bag, which you will receive this evening at the Final Fling. Please note that this bag is not to fill up and just bring home for your mothers to do the laundry, but rather for you guys to fill up and do your own laundry. Its’ not that hard. Just wash everything in cold and keep it simple.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak with all of you this morning and to welcome you into the ranks of De Smet alumni. Thank you.
These were just a few of the wonderful words of gratitude and wisdom shared at the Baccalaureate Brunch honoring the Class of 2019. Tim Weber Sr. '82 is the current President of the De Smet Jesuit Alumni Association.
Pictured in the framed group photo (from left): Brian Collins, John Husmann, Gene Welsh, Bill Blanke, Andy Bauer, Mark Nuelle, and Tim Weber of the Class of 1982.