Graduation scaled back by swine flu

While schools across the country have periodically closed because of the swine flu outbreak, some colleges canceled their graduation ceremonies or altered the events by segregating ill students, banning traditional handshakes and keeping plenty of hand sanitizer at the ready.

St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, Wis., a boarding school for boys 60 miles from Milwaukee, held a private graduation ceremony for its 46 graduates May 15. Guests, including all family members, were not allowed to attend since two students had been diagnosed with the flu and nearly 60 had experienced flu symptoms.

Sam Lucero, editor of  The Compass, newspaper of the Green Bay Diocese, was one of the parents barred from personally seeing his son get his diploma, although he could watch it on streaming video or on the DVD copy of the ceremony each parent was given.

Lucero writes about the the missing graduation in the newspaper’s blog, noting that at this school in particular, students come from across the U.S. and several other countries so there was plenty of disappointment across the board, especially among parents who had traveled quite a  distance to be there.

UPDATE: You can watch a Green Bay TV station’s story (after a brief commercial) on the Lucero family watching the graduation via computer here.

Oblate priest reported safe in Sri Lankan camp

A man rests on a mat as other Tamil civilians and their children sit near their belongings in a refugee camp located on the outskirts of the town of Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka May 4. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A man rests on a mat as other Tamil civilians and their children sit near their belongings in a refugee camp located on the outskirts of the town of Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka May 4. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Oblate Father Saviripillai Edmund Reginald was reported May 21 to be safe with his parents in a government-run camp near the city of of Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.

He was able to get a message to family members outside of the country that he escaped the war zone where the final battle between Sri Lankan military forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels took place May 18. He had not been heard from since May 14.

Oblate Father Seamus Finn, the U.S. director of the Missionary Oblates’ justice, peace and integrity of creation program in Washington, said telephone calls are monitored and restrictions remain on the movement of the Tamil minority in the northern region of the country, especially those confined to the camps.

Concern remains for the future of the Tamil people, an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu on the Indian subcontinent and the northeastern part of Sri Lanka, off the southeast coast of India. Tamils had sought an independent state in Sri Lanka for more than 50 years, and rebel factions initiated military action in 1983 with that goal in mind.

CNS will continue to report on the Catholic Church’s attempts to aid in recovery efforts and to assure that the human rights of the Tamil people are protected.

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