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Bittersweet blessings

By JR Ortega
April 14, 2010 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated April 13, 2010 at 11:14 p.m.

St. Joseph High School President William McArdle, left, congratulates and hands a class ring to student Michael Petrash II. Petrash and 96 other students were honored during a Mass and ring blessing ceremony at the school Wednesday morning. Below: Petrash's class ring and St. Joseph pendant.

The spirit of St. Joseph runs through Michael Petrash II's veins.

Michael was born in St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, went to school at St. Joseph Kindergarten in Nussloch, Germany, made his communion at St. Joseph of Honey Creek and on Wednesday morning, the junior had his graduation ring blessed at St. Joseph High School.

"It's one of the final indicators that our journey at St. Joseph is coming to an end," the 16-year-old said as he looked at his silver, light blue-stoned graduation ring.

The Rev. David Berger lead a Mass at the school gymnasium and blessed the 97 graduation rings of the junior class, which will graduate in 2011.

"It's a milestone for them," said Brigid Sonntag, a volunteer whose daughter graduated from St. Joseph in 1999 and son in 2007. "It's another stepping stone."

St. Joseph President William McArdle passed out the white boxes containing a ring and school medal.

McArdle stressed the importance of the school's mission of faith, morals and values.

"It's been a long-standing tradition," McArdle said, about the blessing of the rings.

He did not have a date as to when the first blessing was.

Michael's mother, Virginia Petrash, anxiously awaited for her son's name to be called.

She quickly began snapping pictures with her digital camera as soon as his row stood up.

"It's a symbol for us that he's almost there," she said in a bittersweet tone.

Her son wants to get an appointment to the Westpoint United States Military Academy in New York after graduation, he said. He is also considering the Air Force Academy.

Michael has learned a lot at the school and is ready to answer the calling God gives him, he said.

"St. Joseph is part of the process of fulfilling God's purpose for me," he said.

While Michael has one more year to hold on to playing on the soccer team and playing bass guitar in the school band, his mother has one more year to hold onto her youngest son.

"For us, St. Joseph, the saint, is an important spirit in his guiding light," she said with a smile.



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