On Thursday, September 10, education majors from the Class of 2017 gathered inside Saint Joseph’s grotto on the Standish campus for the Junior Blessing Ceremony. This annual event, a longstanding tradition at the College, marks the halfway point in an education major’s degree program and offers teachers and mentors the chance to wish the juniors well before they embark on their first internships.

“In education, the junior year is when our students begin to take on more extensive and formal roles in community-based experiences,” explains Joan Flagg-Williams, PhD, an assistant professor in the education department who organized this year’s event. “So we are celebrating a milestone with this ceremony. It’s very positive and supportive.”

Hannah Hebert ’17, an elementary education major, kicked off the ceremony with a recitation from the Book of Sirach [6:32-3]: “If you wish, you can be taught; / if you apply yourself, you will be shrewd.” Her peers Garrett Forss '17 and Hayley Morin '17 proceeded to each lead the group in another prayer, while the audience followed along in pamphlets and responded when prompted with prepared praises to God.

Next, teachers in attendance were given the opportunity to address the junior class as a whole. Among them was Tom Hancock, assistant professor in the education department, who spoke to the key role Saint Joseph’s Mercy tradition plays in molding future educators.

"I sincerely believe that you are different than other juniors in other teacher colleges,” said Hancock. “You are different because you're here, you're different because of the Sisters of Mercy, you're different because of the core values, which we live out here at school. So as you go forward, you take Saint Joseph's with you when you move out, and for this I give thanks and praise."

The ceremony concluded with a brief blessing from Fr. John. In total, the event lasted only about fifteen minutes, but it was still ample time to impart onto the junior class the community they have supporting them as they take their next steps.

"This ceremony is an excellent chance for all of us from different teaching disciplines to come together as one class,” said Hebert, with Forss and Morin echoing similar statements in agreement. “It speaks to the community at Saint Joseph's, which is evident from the moment we arrive on campus. You feel the community, and this is yet another event that proves that."

For more information on the Junior Blessing Ceremony, contact Joan Flagg-Williams at jflagg@sjcme.edu.