Each year at this time, we acknowledge and celebrate the many students who graduate from every level – including middle school, high school or institutions of higher learning. Whether attending Catholic or public schools, these young members of the parishes throughout the Diocese of Trenton celebrate a milestone in their lives, a turning point commemorated through rites of passages known as “commencement.” Graduation is a source of pride and accomplishment for them as they close one chapter in their lives only to begin another. To our graduates I say: Congratulations and Godspeed!
The day, the congratulations, however, do not belong to them alone. The support and the sacrifice of their wonderful parents, grandparents and guardians make the occasion possible. Our Catholic schools, in particular, are the recipients of their parents’ trust, hard work and constant sacrifice. They are their children’s “first teachers” and we owe them our thanks and acknowledgment. No school is as important as the family home. And so, to our parents I say: God reward your goodness to your families.
Finally, a word to their parish priests, religious, teachers, administrators, staff and coaches. You accepted the confidence of parents and their children, alike, as you helped form young minds and hearts to take their place in society and the community of faith. Be proud of and grateful for your noble calling and its fulfillment. The Lord Jesus, the Teacher and Master, is the model for what you do each day in and out of the classroom.
As Bishop, I mark this occasion with a prayerful, grateful heart. May God accompany us all into a joyful future! Remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase … just take the first step!” The best is yet to come!
Yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D., Bishop of Trenton