First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

Eighth-Graders Happy About Graduation, Ready for Next ‘Big Step’
By DAN PIETRAFESA
Chris Sheridan
Cardinal Dolan congratulates eighth-graders from Catholic schools in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties during his homily at a May 22 Mass he offered at Sacred Heart Church in Monroe. The students will graduate from elementary school this month.

Angelo Rogers is thrilled about closing one chapter and starting a new one in September.

“I’m pretty excited because it’s a big step,” said the eighth-grader at St. Joseph School in Kingston of attending John A. Coleman Catholic High School in Hurley in September.

“I do well academically but high school is a lot more work. I need to get on the right track and need to be a lot more serious than I have been.”

His enthusiasm was shared by 300 eighth-graders at Sacred Heart Church in Monroe to participate in a May 22 Mass offered by Cardinal Dolan for the graduating classes from 13 Catholic elementary schools in Rockland, Orange and Ulster counties.

“I think (my Catholic education) helped very much because the teachers are great and I learned a lot from them,” said Travis Curti of St. Gregory Barbarigo School in Garnerville, who will attend Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia.

“I would like to meet new friends in high school and my teachers will bring me more knowledge in high school for better success in life.”

Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, told the students that the goal of Catholic schools is to help them get into college, find good jobs and, most importantly, point them toward everlasting life in heaven.

The cardinal also spoke about the life of St. Rita of Cascia, whose feast day is May 22. St. Rita was the mother of two sons in the 15th century. Her husband was killed and her boys vowed to get revenge by killing the person who took their father away from them. St. Rita urged her sons not to kill the person, but they were determined to do so. St. Rita asked God to take her sons before they committed the sin or were killed attempting to do so. Within a few days, her sons developed fevers and died.

“Beloved eighth-graders, cherish your years in Catholic schools, relish the lessons you’ve learned. The same St. Rita taught that the Gospel is true, that violence and revenge and getting back at people as retribution doesn’t work, that sin is a great horror and that heaven is our real goal,” Cardinal Dolan said.

“Congratulations eighth-graders. Now, you’re ready to move on to the next stage of our education.”

Kingston Catholic’s Colin Leahy reflected on Cardinal Dolan’s message.

“In today’s world, we need forgiveness, and we need to accept everybody,” said Leahy, who will attend Coleman Catholic. “There are a lot of bad things happening in the world. I want to fix that. This class wants to fix that. The only way to do that is to accept and forgive everyone.”

Cardinal Dolan celebrates two Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for graduating high school seniors each spring and visits one region of the archdiocese each year to offer a Mass for graduating eighth-graders.

“I want to tell them it’s a joy, not only a joy for me to see the harvest of our wonderful Catholic schools, that the sweat and sacrifice and commitment is worth it, but also that the Mass is an occasion of joy,” Cardinal Dolan told CNY.

“How could we be happier when we’re so close to the Lord, listening to His word, being in the company of people who share our beliefs and getting ready to receive His very Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist?”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

BROWSE OUR GALLERY