Tending Goals After Tragedy in San Juan

AvilaBy Megan Cuniff, OC Register

For Cinthia and Diana Avila, it still seems like a bad dream.

And it happened so fast. One moment their mother sat in her bedroom, nursing a crippling headache. Minutes later, emergency crews whisked her out of her San Juan Capistrano apartment into an ambulance. She arrived at Mission Hospital in a coma, and she never woke up.

Nearly four months have passed, but for the sisters, time seemed to freeze on that day.

“It still feels like it was all a dream and it didn’t happen,” said Diana, 25, and now 14-year-old Cinthia’s legal guardian. “Like she’s just going to walk in the door one day.”

But the sisters aren’t alone. Cinthia’s former soccer coach, Clyde Blackwelder, has set up a trust fund and is working to organize a network of community members to support Cinthia as she tries to do what no one in her family has ever before done: earn a college degree.

They’re off to a great start.

Carlos Solorzano, whose daughter Raquel is Cinthia’s best friend, secured Cinthia a scholarship to JSerra Catholic High School, where he teaches Spanish. Cinthia began her career as a Lion in August. She loves studying science and is interested in a career in nursing. She plans to try out for soccer this month.

To read more, click here.

Bishop Vann Visits with JSerra Students On-campus

IMG_7027After a class project turned to a real-life experience, the students in Carmen Ribera’s religion class had a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Bishop Kevin Vann.

As part of the coursework in Ribera’s religion class the students were required to research Bishop Vann, who was appointed in 2012, and write him a letter inquiring about various facets of his journey to become a Bishop.

“I told the students we would send Bishop Vann their letters, thinking I would perhaps get a kind note back,” said Ribera. “To my surprise I received a phone call saying that he would like to come visit, I was blown away.”

A few weeks later Bishop Vann arrived on-campus and shared his life’s journey to eventually being appointed a Bishop. Reading from the letters the students sent him, he answered some questions they had submitted from their project.

Student (SQ): What has changed in your everyday life since becoming a Bishop?

Bishop Vann (BV): I think the biggest change has actually been learning to live in different areas. You have to be able to adapt to your surroundings, which can be challenging at times.

SQ: How did you design your coat of arms?

BV: Well each coat of arms is to be specific to each Bishop to express who you are. For mine I choose a blue crest to symbolize Mary, a French cross to symbolize reform, and two keys to symbolize the kingdom of heaven.

SQ: As a Bishop you are at the third level of the holy order, what’s the responsibility like?

BV: There are 1.3 million Catholics in California, a much bigger number then I have had in the past, however I try to not think about it and take it all one day at a time.

SQ: How did you get into your vocation?

BV: I came from a big family that had to sacrifice many things in order for us to attend Catholic schools growing up, which taught me how important it is to have a faith-filled educational background. This to me, translated into the importance of having a real relationship with Christ in my everyday life. I earned a degree in science and worked for a period of time before seeing more and more that Christ is in everything and that is when I joined the church.

SQ: What is one piece of advice you could give to help strengthen your relationship with God?

BV: You have to talk to God, and spend time together investing in your relationship. It is the same as if it were with a friend or spouse.

Rwandan Genocide Survivor Spreads Forgiveness

(left to right): Father Dan Wilder , Elizabeth, Dr. John Freeh Father Ubald, Pastor Rick Warren,  Kay Warren, and Rwandan Bob
(left to right): Father Dan Wilder, Elizabeth, Dr. John Freeh, Father Ubald, Pastor Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Kay Warren, and Rwandan Bob

By Sarah Gray Isenberg, Patch.com

“Extreme horror requires extreme forgiveness,” boomed Father Ubald Rugirangoga in the JSerra High School gymnasium Friday.

The Rwandan genocide encompassed Rugirangoga’s childhood.

“I have never experienced a miracle before,” said Rugirangoga when asked how he survived the ethnic genocide after being forced to flee the killings. “I heard God’s voice in my ears, and he told me to run, to escape. So I did what he said.”

In 1963, Rugirangoga’s father was killed with his brothers and other relatives in one early wave of the genocide.

Rugirangoga and his family are Tutsis, an ethnic group that was historically victimized by the majority Hutus, an opposing Rwandan group.

“I have been subject to ethnic hatred,” he said. “My father was killed because of this hatred that exists.”

After his father’s murder, Rugirangoga’s mother labored in the fields to pay for his and his younger brother’s tuition for their religious schooling, and in 1984 Rugirangoga was ordained into priesthood in Rwanda.

However, the persecution was not over for the Tutsis.

To read the complete story click here.

Andres Mendoza Commits to UC Irvine

Andres Mendoza, JSerra senior and soccer center midfielder commits to UC Irvine.
Andres Mendoza, JSerra senior and soccer center midfielder commits to UC Irvine.

Congratulations to Andres Mendoza for signing his letter of intent, to play for the Anteaters at the University of California, Irvine. 

The center midfielder has had a successful high school soccer career as a Lion and looks forward to beginning his college career as an Anteater.

“It has always been my goal to play soccer in college, and now that all my hard work has paid off to meet my goal, I’d like to aspire to play professionally. Continuing my success in soccer and my education is a big focus, and I believe I can continue this at UCI.”

As the Lions look forward to their post-season to compete in CIF, coach Davor Fabulich had this to say about Mendoza:

“As a coach I am excited to see Andres play at UCI, they have a competitive program and an amazing coaching staff. Andres is on of JSerra’s top players and works hard as captain of the team. I couldn’t be more proud of Andres.”

To see more photos and other soccer college commitments from 2012-2013 click Lions.

A Message from President Richard Meyer

Dear JSerra Parents,

The events of the past four days have left me feeling as if I have died and found a little slice of heaven on earth here at JSerra. Perhaps it’s the tremendous weather.  Perhaps it’s the dedicated staff.  Perhaps it’s the cheerful students.  Perhaps it’s the supportive and welcoming parents.  Whatever the root cause may be, it is a privilege and honor to serve you as the President of JSerra.

Allow me to provide you with a little of my background.  My undergraduate degree is in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois.  After spending time in sales in the corporate environment, I decided to return to graduate school and received a masters in English education.  That was followed by a move to Spain to teach at an all-boys school near Granada.

Upon my return to the States, I completed a masters in Spanish language and literature at Middlebury College in Vermont.  I taught for roughly eight years in two public schools similar in scope and size to JSerra in the suburbs of Chicago while attaining my credentials in educational administration.  Immediately prior to joining JSerra, I spent the last six years as the Headmaster of Northridge Prep.

On the personal side, I have the fortune of being married to a wonderful woman, Anne, with whom I have seven children. Our eldest, Katherine, looks forward to becoming a sophomore Lion when my family joins me in June.  Until then, I will be commuting home on the weekends in preparation for our permanent move to California.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention in this letter of introduction what most attracted me to JSerra.  As I began in earnest the search for my next school leadership opportunity this past summer, I cast my sights to the four corners of the country.  (Truth be told I was thinking “the world” but my wife limited me to the 48 continental United States.)

What this process revealed to me was that there are very few schools in America, perhaps less than a handful, with whose mission I so closely identify as that of JSerra, both on a professional and personal level.  The notion of an authentically Catholic yet warmly ecumenical learning environment that seeks to promote objective truths for the benefit of students from a variety of faith backgrounds is entirely unique.

This was in evidence today as I witnessed over 1,000 of our students participate in a Eucharistic procession on campus in celebration of the Feast of All Saints.  Make no mistake, what also attracted me to JSerra was the vision of offering top-notch academic and extracurricular programs within this framework, thus providing an integral education to our young men and women that enriches them as much spiritually as it does intellectually, physically, and emotionally.

I look forward to getting to know as many of you as possible in the coming weeks and months and ask that you keep me in your prayers during this time of transition.  Should you find yourself on campus, stop by and introduce yourself — my door is open.

Warmest regards,

Richard T. Meyer


Lady Lion Moms Group Hosts Welcome Lunch

Please join JSerra Lady Lion moms group for brunch at The Tea House on Los Rios at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 18.

Enjoy a wonderful lunch and great company, as the Lady Lions make connections and meet up with fellow Pride Mothers.

The Tea House on Los Rios is located in the Los Rios Historic District across the train tracks at the San Juan        Capistrano Train Station.

To RSVP please  email Kathy Celentano at kjcel@pacbell.net.

*Cash only, please come prepared.