graduation

Meet Our Graduates

We are so proud to announce 21 high school students will be graduating from our program in August and October. Their hard work and your support has made this milestone possible and we are grateful for both.

We want to highlight the stories of a few of our graduates so you could see first hand the amazing impact you are having in Liberia. Please enjoy the story of Willamena, Joseph and Emmanuel.

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Willamena’s Story

“Before entering the program at Liberia Mission, I was living with my mother, three brothers, and three sisters in a small village named Whiteplain.  My mother never completed her education, so we grew up very poor as she struggled to provide for us financially by doing various jobs in the bush, such as working on a farm or cutting down small trees for coal.  I can remember there were many holes in our roof during the rainy season.  

Most of the girls in my village already have children; and although I look forward to having a big family one day, I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on the future I am striving to create for myself.
— Willamena

I have been at Liberia Mission since 2008.  I began in 3rd grade. St. Anthony’s really built a good foundation for me and helped me focus on my lessons.  I was going to a small public school back in my village, but I wasn’t able to learn much there. The mission also built up my faith, and now I’m more dedicated than ever to worshiping God.  Most of the girls in my village already have children; and although I look forward to having a big family one day, I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on the future I am striving to create for myself.

I look forward to continuing my studies in the field of agriculture at the University of Liberia.  One day I would love to have my own farm with many employees. I want to help increase development in the agricultural sector in order to reduce poverty in Liberia.”

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Joseph’s Story

“Before coming to Liberia Mission, I was not in school.  I was helping my parents work on our small farm in a village near Gbarnga.  I would also fish and set traps in the bush for animals so that we could have some meat to eat.  One day representatives from Liberia Mission came to our village looking for potential candidates for the program.  My father was friends with our town chief, who recommended that I go to Liberia Mission.

Liberia Mission took me from a place where I had no hope for education and gave me the opportunity to develop my passion for agriculture. 
— Joseph

Liberia Mission took me from a place where I had no hope for education and gave me the opportunity to develop my passion for agriculture.  I have had many opportunities to gain experience by working on the mission’s large farm. We also have cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and donkeys.  I have discovered that I have a real passion for animals. Liberia Mission has also greatly increased the quality of my faith in God. Back at home I didn’t go to church, but now I look forward to it every week.  I even serve Mass as an altar server.

I want to study agriculture at the University of Liberia; because I have discovered a true passion for animals, I would like to focus on animal science and eventually become a veterinarian.  I hope to one day have a family and be able to give back to Liberia Mission.”

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Emmanuel’s Story

“When I was young, I used to go to a public school in Weala, a small village.  I had six brothers and one sister. My father used to work for SRC (Salala Rubber Company), and things were OK.  However, he became ill and was taken to a country doctor in the bush. He couldn’t go to work anymore, and I dropped out of school to work on my family’s small farm.  One day a group came from Liberia Mission, and our town chief, who I used to do small jobs for, told my father that I should enter the program.

I am fortunate to have had this opportunity for a good education and real-life work experience because none of my brothers or sisters have ever received this kind of possibility. 
— Emmanuel

I am fortunate to have had this opportunity for a good education and real-life work experience because none of my brothers or sisters have ever received this kind of possibility.  I didn’t go to church back at home, but Liberia Mission helped me to understand and appreciate my faith more.

I want to study agriculture at the University of Liberia.  One day I would like to have my own farm with crops and animals, like the mission.  Then I could come back to the mission and give back in various ways, either by giving donations or teaching work.”


It is your support that has made our students like Willamena, Joseph and Emmanuel have the financial support they needed to stay in school. Thank you for helping empower them with a high school diploma!

2018 Graduation

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Graduation ceremonies in Liberia are joyous, celebratory occasions.  Those at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School are no exception. Whether it be the graduation of kindergarteners or ninth-graders, the day is highlighted by inspirational speeches, special awards, and well-rehearsed songs that give thanks to God. The day is bright from the attendees colorful African lapas, the traditional clothes worn for celebrations.

Families and staff came together wearing colorful lapas, tradition African celebration wear, to honor the work os St. Anthony's students.

Families and staff came together wearing colorful lapas, tradition African celebration wear, to honor the work os St. Anthony's students.

Use the tools and knowledge you have acquired for a better future for Liberia.
— Father Charles Boyce

It was standing-room-only in a packed St. Michael the Archangel Chapel as many happy parents and family members came out in support of their children.  Staying true to our motto—“GOD-EDUCATION-WORK”—we began the day with Holy Mass, celebrated by our friend and spiritual benefactor, Father Charles Boyce, from Immaculate Conception Parish (the parish that we belong to).  Father inspired us during his homily as he urged the graduates to use the tools and knowledge they have acquired for a better future for Liberia.

Father Charles Boyce giving an inspiring homily to the graduates.

Father Charles Boyce giving an inspiring homily to the graduates.

After Mass we began the graduation program.  The principal, Mr. Joseph Kulah, welcomed all to the occasion before introducing Mr. Kweh Menyen, Vice Principal for Instruction.  Mr. Menyen gave a detailed report of the students’ academic performance at St. Anthony showing that our school performs at the highest level.  

Following Mr. Menyen was a solo vocal performance by one of the female students. All present were touched by her effort and the song’s lyrics, sung to God: “You are too good to us.” After the song came Mr. Mark Karley, Vice Principal for Student Affairs, who gave a behavioral assessment of the student body.  Various awards were given out for good behavior, and the top achiever was even given a one-year, full scholarship to St. Anthony’s! Following the awards was a skit performed by students from the eight-grade class. The overall message of the skit preached the values of honesty and transparency when interacting with friends and colleagues—an important message for Liberia!  

Discern exactly what kind of Liberia you want and work for it.
— Josephine Francise, Liberian Senatorial Candidate

Former Representative and current Senatorial Candidate, Mrs. Josephine Francise, was this year’s guest speaker.  During her time in the Liberian House of Representatives, she worked alongside President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and was an advocate for, among other things, education, agricultural development, and women’s rights.  Her speech focused on urging the students to discern exactly what kind of Liberia they wanted and were willing to work for. She was a very charismatic speaker and surely left a lasting impression on the student body.  

After the guest speaker, it was finally time to hand out the graduation certificates!  Mr. Kulah, Fr. Charles, and our beloved director, Mr. John Raymond Alpha, all took turns in shaking the hands of both the kindergarteners and ninth-graders alike.  Many happy parents looked on as their children received acknowledgment for an academic job well done!

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St. Anthony students pose with their certificate and flower bouquets in our chapel.

St. Anthony students pose with their certificate and flower bouquets in our chapel.

The teachers themselves then proceeded out from the back of the chapel while singing jubilantly.  Although they received a hearty round of applause from all in attendance, they did this more as a show of their own thanks to the school and of their passion for teaching- we have awesome teachers!

Nothing that just took place would have been possible without the generosity and hard work of Franciscan Works and its donors and sponsors.
— Alpha Raymond, Director of Liberia Mission

Finally, in closing, Mr. Alpha addressed all those in attendance. He began by sincerely thanking Franciscan Works, noting that nothing that just took place would have been possible without the generosity and hard work of the organization and its donors and sponsors. He then went on to encourage the students, saying it would be extremely regrettable if the students did not share with their countrymen (and humanity in general) the knowledge and values they had acquired while attending St. Anthony’s.  He noted that we give the greatest glory to God when serving our fellow brothers and sisters.

Students pose with family outside the chapel following the service.

Students pose with family outside the chapel following the service.

All in all, it was a day that marked success: success for the students, for Liberia Mission, and, most especially, for the Gospel message.  As the students and their families departed for various graduation parties, the teachers and school administration convened one more time to shake each other’s hands and congratulate each other on a job well done.  They would then leave for their one month vacation, a well-deserved break that would re-energize and prepare them for the upcoming school year, when the hard work would begin again!