BRISTOL - Prayers and well wishes were given warmly to St. Paul Catholic High Schoolâ€™s Class of 2017 Tuesday.
Families and friends gathered in the pews of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford to celebrate the schoolâ€™s 48th commencement. A church organ and choir echoed through the spacious hall as guests took their seats under the light of stained glass windows.
Following the singing of America the Beautiful an invocation was offered by Rev. Hector Rangel.
Cary Dupont, president of St. Paul, then welcomed the graduates and guests.
â€śIn the presence of God it is my privilege to celebrate our 48th commencement exercises,â€ť he said. â€śDuring this academic year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary of St. Paul school. In September 1966 we welcomed 160 hesitant but excited freshmen and on June 12, 1970 we had our first graduating class. Our resiliency is a testament to our determination and the spirit of those who call St. Paul home - the generous parents who made sacrifices to send their children to St. Paul, the staff who see them as their own children, because they are, and the alumni who make a difference in all disciplines in the world. Our anniversary motto is sharing our past and honoring our future, which recognizes the sacrifice and passion that has gone into preserving Catholic secondary education in the greater Bristol area. Fifty years later we are continuing ever stronger.â€ť
Benjamin Czuprinski then gave his salutatory address.
â€śAlthough right now this graduation may seem like the culmination of our lifeâ€™s work, an ultimate goal that we have finally reached, the reality is that we still do have an entire lifetime ahead of us,â€ť he said. â€śRegardless of how great an achievement this graduation may seem, not a single one of us has yet reached our peak in life. Despite all that we have worked for and accomplished, thus far not a single one of us has yet accomplished all the incredible feats which we are unmistakably still capable of. Lastly, not one of us has yet finished making our own uniquely significant impact, whether we know tonight, or decades from now, exactly what it is. What we do know now is that it begins with St. Paul Catholic High School and will affect far more lives than just those present tonight, becoming our lasting legacy on this Earth.â€ť
Later, Valedictorian Jordan Michael Silva addressed his classmates.
â€śWhen we leave here tonight, many of us will go on to pursue higher education, some with hopes of pursuing a professional career,â€ť he said. â€śSome of us will decide to dedicate their lives to our country and some of us will take on a trade. In whichever case, we will all play an integral role in society and have the opportunity to not only honor our past, but shape our future. So set your goals high, find your purpose and trust in God and each of us will make a positive difference in the world.â€ť
Dupont then imparted the graduates with additional parting words of wisdom before they were at last presented with their diplomas.
The ceremony closed with congratulations and a benediction from Rev. Henry Mansell and then a reading of The Irish Blessing by Lori True:
â€śMay the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again
May you keep safe in the gentle loving arms of God.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.