Before I begin, I should describe exactly what my high school means to me, why it's so important to me. I was basically raised by a benignly neglectful family, I went to a TERRIBLE Catholic K-8, spent time with my parents only during summer and winter breaks...not necessarily good time. Loyola Academy became my immediate family, I went from spending 9+ hours a day with said benignly neglectful family to 10+ hours a day with awesome people who genuinely cared about me as an individual. Sure, there were buttholes such as the entire math department, but they were so minimal compared to everything else! I even grew to love religious studies and Mr. McGrath, now Fr. McGrath, was the person who convinced me that there are trustworthy, compassionate clergymen. What really made me appreciate Loyola, though, was that my mom tried to take me out of it five times in three years; her idea of discipline was to register me in dangerous, poor schools. That made Loyola even more like family to me.
A lot of changes occurred my senior year and plummeted downhill from there. A shrew basically appointed herself some new position when someone else with a customized position quit (and he quit because she was employed there in the first place) and began spreading homophobic policies. Apparently anyone mentioning anything gay-related would turn the students gay, so she made it a punishable offense.
Mr./Fr. McGrath became a beacon of hope when he was elected the new president of the school. He diffused my anger at religion/clergy, kept a respectful and accepting dialogue, and was just a super-fun teacher! I learned so much in his Theology class about how to form one's own personal spirituality, how one forms hir own relationship with God/Gods/etc., etc. It was wonderful.
AND NOW HE IS PRESIDENT!!!!! I attended his welcoming mass this morning, which was also the centennial mass for the school. It was great and he was ecstatic to see me. His homily preached compassion as the way for everyone at the mass to "weave their histories into Loyola's." Wonderful! Afterward, there were refreshments and a long line of people wanting to talk to him. Alum, parents, etc. and I all made smalltalk about our experiences at Loyola. Then I finally got to chat with him; we laughed about the old inside jokes from our class and were happy for each other both being in good places.
Then I said, "You once commented on how tough I was. I've been harassed, threatened and fired for being openly gay but it wasn't my toughness that got me through all that, it was the compassion that I learned here. The gay students here need that compassion." He asked if I was referring to anything specific and I explained the frankly homophobic policy. He said that he wasn't aware of that policy, but that he would look into it and that he appreciated that I talked to him. And then other people grabbed his attention so he said it was great to see me that he was glad that I came.