JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, presents a diploma to a Notre Dame High School graduate during commencement exercises June 9. Craig Pittelli photo
JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, presents a diploma to a Notre Dame High School graduate during commencement exercises June 9. Craig Pittelli photo

June is the time when graduates respond with an ebullient, carefree spirit recognizing the joy-filled completion of 12-plus years of education. It is also the time when a defined tug is experienced on the heartstrings of parents, accentuating the rapid passage of time, the unfolding of new explorations, discoveries and continued soul-searching for their child. It is a time in which school traditions are honored and take on a meaning and a rite of passage, a connection with former alums.

Baccalaureate Masses and graduation exercises exemplify a personal stamp reflecting the individuality and culture of each high school. It may be experienced in the lighting of the alumni candle with family members who salute the same alma mater. It may be reflected in the procession of the 50th anniversary class appearing to be lost in thought recalling their youthful days. Have they really grown up? It is a time for family and friends to become absorbed in the strains and formidable talents of the choir and orchestra. It is a reflective time as former graduates return to deliver commencement speeches accentuated with experience and personal advice. It is a time to remember, to embrace the familiar and to welcome the unfamiliar yet to be experienced.

The 1,536 graduates of the Class of 2019 from the Catholic high schools of the Diocese of Trenton are poised and accomplished individuals. They are applauded for their rigor, their constancy and their self-discipline in the world of academia and athletics. The graduates were awarded scholarships and grants exceeding $213 million. They are recognized for their personal development as daily experiences render evidence of their faith. School Masses, Kairos retreats, consistent service to the less fortunate, all resonate a lived faith.

In the commencement speech for one of our schools, an alum and talented Navy SEAL provided a personal reflection and a turning point from his high school years. He recounted a troubling time of emptiness and personal anguish. During this difficult time, he received unexpected help and guidance from a member of the maintenance staff who became that listening ear. A defining moment in the evening was the presence and introduction of this gentleman staff and hero after so many years.  Through a personal invitation, this school hero was present once again to support the boy and now accomplished man and commencement speaker. The moment revealed without question that each of us is integral in the lives of others.

Parents, administrators, faculty, staff and unnamed supporters invested in the formation and support of the graduates and have touched their lives. They have given of themselves without compromise and without expectation. We salute loved ones and our schools’ everyday heroes.

Graduates of the Class of 2019, a wish is extended that you may possess wisdom that transcends knowledge … wisdom to know that you matter. You are a unique creation of God. You have a purpose in this world that only you can fulfill.

Savor the beauty and the gift of life. Find beauty in the simple things. Stay close to God and remember that he is but a thought or prayer away. Radiate joy and compassion. Experience the life-giving energy that God has placed in each of us and work to develop your talents to the fullest. You are a gift of God, and our world awaits your talents and signature!