By Rose O’Connor | Corresponsdent
The Trenton Catholic Academy graduating Class of 2013 gathered in St. Anthony Church, Trenton, June 5 to celebrate their baccalaureate liturgy and commencement exercises. While the evening commemorated the finality of their high school career, the seniors also paid homage to the foundation of the school and the school’s beloved founder, the late Msgr. Michael P. McCorristin.
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Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, principal celebrant of the Mass, identified what he described as the “heart of the celebration” that “Iron Mikes make a difference. “They make a difference because TCA is different. TCA is a Catholic school. Everything that it teaches, everything that it does, everything that it promotes, is permeated by faith. The path of this school is determined by the Lord Jesus,” said Msgr. Gervasio.
In his homily, Msgr. Gervasio focused on three words from St. John’s Gospel that he felt exemplified an Iron Mike, the nickname for TCA students derived from the legendary and definite resolve and determination of founder Msgr. McCorristin: love, friend and fruits.
“Love must be more that an emotion,” he said and bearing in mind the love that Jesus has for his people. “It is a love that has to be given and selfless and generous. Not only kind and compassionate but strong and forgiving and courageous and sacrificial.”
He reminded the graduates that Jesus says, “I call you friend” and that the Son of God elevates his disciples to the status of friend.
“An Iron Mike knows that prayer is the way, prayer is the means to cultivate this extraordinary relationship with the Son of God.”
Admitting that the word “fruits” is rather an unusual word to associate with love and friend, he revealed the instances in the Scripture where fruit is referenced including “Go forth and bear fruit,” and “by their fruits you shall know them.”
He continued, “Our lives must be productive, our lives must give some evidence or provide a witness. We must make our mark in the world and people must see all that we do and say I give praise to God from the fruits that I’ve seen in your life.”
“Live the Lord’s command of love, live always as his friend and live a life that bears much fruit. That is my prayer and my wish for you,” he concluded.
Following the baccalaureate liturgy, class salutatorian, Sara Ann Marchitto avowed, “Our past is chiseled in stone, each of us forever inscribed together. But our future stands before us unknown.”
“This night we should not focus on leaving our treasured school, rather, we should focus on the new memories to be made, the new joys to be shared and the new adventures to be had, because we have been well-prepared for the journey that lies ahead,” she stated.
Marchitto then reflected not only on the past 4 years but acknowledged the school’s 50th anniversary and legacy. “Fifty years ago, Msgr. Michael McCorristin built our school with his own two hands,” she said. While recognizing the school’s name and color changes, she emphasized that “the foundation is still the same,” and reminded her fellow graduates that, “Msgr. McCorristin is the original Iron Mike.”
“I issue you a challenge,” she said. “I challenge you to make your name a legacy, make your name one to be remembered.”
Valedictorian Rebecca Healy echoed Marchitto’s sentiments on the legacy of the Class of 2013.
“This school, this community has become a part of us and we will forever be a part of TCA,” she said.
Healy too spoke of the legacy left by Msgr. McCorristin and assured her classmates that “every day when we walked through the doors and walked down the halls we helped to carry on his legacy.”
“Now it is our turn to create our own legacy. What will future generations say about us?” she queried. “What is our Iron Mike legacy?”
As Msgr. Gervasio accentuated the importance of three words in his homily, Trenton Catholic Academy president, Sister of St. Joseph Dorothy Payne posed three questions for the graduates to consider, the first being, “I ask you to think about who are you, where are you going and how are you going to get there?”
“I believe first and foremost every single one of you is a child made in the image and likeness of God. If you remember that it will put you at the beginning of a right path. If you believe this and rely on God daily tremendous possibilities await you.”
She urged the graduates to think long-range and ask themselves, “What do I dream of becoming?” and encouraged them to work hard, sacrifice and continue to serve others.
“Each of us here rests on the service of our ancestors, and now it is time to give back,” said Sister Dorothy.
Sister Dorothy also challenged the graduates to “pass on to others what you have been given.”
“And how do we get there?” she asked again. “Simply, by doing the right thing.”
After the diplomas were conferred and the tassels were turned, Tracey Destribats, a member of the Class of 1981 and Trenton Catholic Academy director of development, inducted the Class of 2013 into the Iron Mike Alumni Association.
Michele Neves, Upper School President, addressed the senior class, whom she fondly referred to throughout the years as “amazing” for the final time.
She highlighted of the accomplishments of the 61 graduates include a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate and an excess of $4.2 million in scholarships, averaging $69,000 per student.
“From day one I have told you the same things over and over,” she said. “Jesus loves you no matter what, there is always hope and you must realize the power your own prayer has.”[[In-content Ad]]