CHAMPLAIN - Although the last two baccalaureate services for soon-to-be graduates of Northeastern Clinton Central School have not been well-attended, the Rev. Al Johnson is hoping for a change this year.
The third annual baccalaureate service will be held at St. Mary's Church, Sunday, June 13, at 3 p.m. The event is put together by the Northern Tier Ministries - a group of Catholic/Christian churches in Northeast Clinton County.
"The faith communities come together to honor and to help the graduates see how faith can be a benefit to them in their lives," Johnson explained of the service.
Johnson said baccalaureate services began in 1432 at Oxford University.
"Baccalaureates are very prevalent in some areas, in some school districts," he said. "Historically, they're a great tie-in between higher education and any church, not just the Christian church."
One of the goals for the service is for the students to see people from various faiths join together.
"People of faith do work together and I think it's important for the graduates to see that," Johnson explained, "particularly in a smaller area where they're not always going to be able to see a lot of diversity."
At this year's service, Johnson is hoping the guest speaker will bring in more people to the service.
"The new Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese [of Ogdensburg] will be coming," he said of the Most. Rev. Terry LaValley, a Mooers Forks native and past NCCS graduate. "We're hoping that's a draw. The area is predominately Roman Catholic."
Aside from the graduates, their families and other members of the community are welcome to attend the event.
"It's an open service," Johnson said. "It's hopefully just an uplifting time to come together."