*By Mary Rezac

An article from the Washington Times grabbed my attention on Twitter this morning – “Crowd stunned after valedictorian rips up speech, recites Lord’s prayer.

Say what!?


Roy Costner IV of Liberty High School in South Carolina brought his pre-approved speech to the podium to deliver his valedictorian address at graduation.

And then proceeded to RIP IT UP in front of everyone, thank his parents for his Christian upbringing, and recite the Lord’s Prayer amidst thunderous applause and cheers from the audience.

The move was in protest of a recent decision by the school to not include prayer in the graduation ceremony after receiving complaints from atheists.

It’s the kind of Christian rebellion dreams are made of.

“Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today,” he said. “I’m so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age.”

“And I think most of you will understand when I say…” he paused. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name…”

The school isn’t pressing any charges – and really, it can’t. He’s a graduate now, and he simply expressed his religious beliefs.


This is the kind of guts and the kind of courage it often takes to be holy, especially in a culture where the Gospel increasingly falls on deaf ears. The kind that we see from Pope Francis telling it like it is. The kind that St. Josemaria Escriva calls all Christians to in any of his books.

“You drag along like a sandbag. You don’t do your share. No wonder you are beginning to feel the first symptoms of lukewarmness. WAKE UP!” -St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, pg. 81

Call it what you will, but Roy Costner IV’s move was not lukewarm. Usually valedictorian speeches are forgotten a day or two after they are given. But this one has a message that will stick.

And so, Valedictorian, I salute you.

And hope to emulate you.

How can I approach my faith with more passion and spontaneity? Jesus, show me the way.

Photo courtesy of Angie Costner.

Photo courtesy of Angie Costner.


*Mary Rezac is an intern with CNA. Next fall, she will be a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is studying Journalism and Education.