The Holy Spirit recently revealed something beautiful about this year’s Christian Service Awards photo.

Eighth-graders who have already been accepted to a local Catholic high school, surround Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted as they display their Christian Service Awards March 3. Their service efforts and overall excellence earned them a private, partial tuition scholarship. (Photo Courtesy of the Catholic Community Foundation)

The Catholic Community Foundation, which coordinates the awards, has long used a private photographer for the occasion. Once CCF began regularly seeking venues away from the Diocesan Pastoral Center a few years ago, it afforded her more creativity with the standard group photo.

This year’s was a home run. Take a closer look at it and you’ll agree.

  • Venue — This was the first time in recent history that the awards ceremony was held at a parish. It’s historically held at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. It looks like two in the last 10 years were held at a local school and two at a local theater.
    The 2017 reception was held at St. Paul Parish, thus expanding the feasible logistics of putting 30-some people into one photo without them looking squished. It also meant the picture didn’t have to solely rely on shrubbery and blank walls for a suitable background.
  • Picture location — Did you notice the two crosses essentially framing the photo?
    Those aren’t just any crosses. They’re the eighth and ninth Scriptural Stations of the Cross (an alternative to the traditional Stations and one that St. John Paul II prayed on Good Friday in 1991). The awards reception fell on the first Friday of Lent this year.
    What’s better, the students featured are eighth-graders bearing a certificate that entitles them to a partial scholarship for a local Catholic high school when they begin ninth-grade in August.
    Even more miraculous is the accompanying prayer for the eighth and ninth Scriptural Stations of the Cross:

XIII – Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross
Lord, grant us willing spirits
that we may be your instruments on earth.
Related reflection

IX – Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Lord, grant us gentle spirits
that we may comfort those who mourn.
Related reflection

Those are the perfect prayers and reflections for eighth-graders whose service efforts earned them the scholarship award.