2017-06-08 / Life in Leelanau

Father Michael — eight St. Mary grads bid adieu — for now

ST. MARY
—Story and photos by Patti Brandt Burgess


FATHER MICHAEL Janowski gave each graduate a hug and some words of encouragement at what will likely be his last commencement at St. Mary School on Sunday. FATHER MICHAEL Janowski gave each graduate a hug and some words of encouragement at what will likely be his last commencement at St. Mary School on Sunday. Father Michael Janowski had a little more than usual in common with the eight graduates of the St. Mary Class of 2017 on Sunday.

“As you make your transition, so do I, in a couple of weeks,” Janowski said. “This is farewell for now, this is not goodbye.”

While the graduates are off to college and their adult lives, Janowski will soon leave for the Gaylord Diocese, where he will serve at St. Ann Catholic Church in Cadillac, St. Theresa in Manton and St. Stephen in Lake City.

But he left them with this thought.

“Wherever you go you’ll have a priest who loves you,” Janowski said.

Amanda Kohler, the mom of graduate Christopher Kohler, gave the commencement speech at Sunday’s event. Christopher is the first of her five children to graduate.


BRAND NEW St. Mary graduates Alvin Grant and Christopher Kohler check out the rest of their Class of 2017 on Sunday from the back of the church. BRAND NEW St. Mary graduates Alvin Grant and Christopher Kohler check out the rest of their Class of 2017 on Sunday from the back of the church. “He’s the first,” she said. “I’m very proud of him. He’s an amazing kid.”

Becky Grant was there to see her cousin’s son Alvin Grant graduate. It was her first time attending commencement exercises at St. Mary.

“It was beautiful, with the music and the speeches,” Grant said, adding that her daughter Hannah will graduate from the school next year. “It goes by so fast.”

In a tradition started last year, Principal Megan Glynn tearfully recognized those families whose youngest child or only child graduated this year. Those grads are Haley Tarsa, Maranda Hughes, Erica Bootz and Emily Holmes.

“Thank you for blessing us with your presence and your children and reminding us all to keep faith first,” Glynn said.


MARANDA HUGHES plays the violin as Haley Tarsa and Emelia Alflen sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ while Emily Holmes translates the hymn into American Sign Language. MARANDA HUGHES plays the violin as Haley Tarsa and Emelia Alflen sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ while Emily Holmes translates the hymn into American Sign Language. Rounding out the Class of 2017 are Emelia Alflin and Ryan Popp.



THE ST. MARY Class of 2017 is presented on Sunday. The eight graduates include, from left, Haley Tarsa, Ryan Popp, Christopher Kohler, Maranda Hughes, Emily Holmes, Alvin Grant, Erica Bootz and Emelia Alflen. THE ST. MARY Class of 2017 is presented on Sunday. The eight graduates include, from left, Haley Tarsa, Ryan Popp, Christopher Kohler, Maranda Hughes, Emily Holmes, Alvin Grant, Erica Bootz and Emelia Alflen.

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