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A message from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

Faith will carry you through ‘rite of passage’ Bishop tells 2016 graduates

13087aBishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., gave the following homily during Baccalaureate Masses for the Class of 2016:

My dear friends, especially the graduating class of 2016: You are about to graduate from a Catholic high school. In all the excitement that surrounds this great event in your lives, the Lord has put so much before your minds and hearts to celebrate.

That’s why we begin Commencement at Mass, the most important prayer of the Church. We call Mass the “Holy Eucharist,” a word that means “thanksgiving.”  Gratitude fills our minds and hearts tonight.  And it should.

Graduation is a rite of passage, a moment in your young lives when you mark the end of four years of high school and the beginning of a new chapter in your lives. You leave behind you your childhood only to strike out on your own as young adults. Throughout your lives, the Lord has spoken to you often: through your parents, your teachers, your friends and your Church. You have been told what to do and have been given many words of instruction and advice how to do it. Now it is up to you.

Yes, we will all continue to be a part of your lives and we will continue to give you advice. But no more bells. No one to wake you up for college. No one to tell you get your homework done, to get going. Now you must take those important responsibilities and make them your own. But before you do, let me take you back to the beginning.

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When you were born, your parents brought you to Church for your Baptism. The Lord spoke to you through them, inviting you to become a member of a larger family, the Christian family that is the Church. At your Baptism, your parents and godparents made promises for you to bring you up in the Catholic faith, to teach you the Catholic faith, to help you live your Catholic faith. They, like the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, believed that the Lord’s words spoken to you through them would be fulfilled. And they brought you to Church, to Catholic school, to Confession, to Mass, to help you make those same promises for yourself in Confirmation.

In each of those things and all of the moments in between, the Lord has spoken to you and fulfilled his word.  This is your faith, the faith you bring to this Church tonight as you prepare for graduation.

As you celebrate graduation, don’t lose sight of all those things: all that has been in your life and the great sacrifices your parents made to bring you to this moment.  And as you celebrate, pray tonight that the Lord will stay with you and help you take your faith into a happy, healthy and wonderful future.  And continue to believe that what the Lord has spoken to you will be fulfilled.

The world is a big place and the future is uncertain. But your faith is NOT uncertain. It is true and it will carry you through all the uncertain moments that the future lays out before you. God goes with you and your faith will make you strong, able to handle whatever comes your way. Do not forget God. Do not forget your faith and all that you have learned about it. Do not abandon for any reason what the Lord has spoken, offered, promised and fulfilled in your lives so far.

Whether you go to college or some other path, take your faith with you. Go to Mass. Receive the Sacraments of Confession and Communion.  Remember your Confirmation promises to God and his Church. Do all these things, even though there is no one who tells you to. Do all these things, even though you will meet people who tell you not to bother.  Don’t believe them. They do not know the truth or, worse, they don’t care about it. Believe that the Lord’s words spoken to you will be fulfilled.

Your graduation will mean many things. But, most importantly, it means that it is now up to you. Go forth with God as your guide and your faith as your path through life.

W
e all know the kinds of stories about Catholic schools that grab front page headlines. Unfortunately, the good news of Catholic schools is rarely reported in the mainstream media.

Too often our schools are “Best Kept Secrets” in which the value that they bring is known only to the families whose students are already enrolled. We aim to change that. 

Just for starters, here are some things you should know…

Across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, there are nearly 17,000 students in Catholic schools sponsored by their local parishes or by the Diocese of Trenton. These schools are strong and vibrant — many are well enrolled; some with waiting lists for certain grades.

Our schools continue to distinguish themselves as places of extraordinary academic advancement; robust science and technology resources, and the best in athletic development and competition, all the while forming young Catholics in their faith and providing opportunities for them to put this faith into action. Our schools provide an educational experience that can be found in no other setting.

We encourage members of the Catholic community to get the good news of Catholic schools by exploring one near you, and to stay connected with this website. Here, we will share new information and resources about our schools on a regular basis.

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View the video message above from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., about Catholic schools in the Diocese of Trenton.

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THE BUZZ

  • “… seeds [planted by families] are watered and nurtured in our Catholic schools producing ‘fruit that will last (John 15: 16):’ a community of faith, knowledge and service that reaches far beyond classroom doors.”

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    Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.
    Tenth Bishop of Trenton
  • “Catholic school teachers, invested in the students whom they teach, are relentless in their pursuit of providing
    an exceptional 21st century educational experience.”

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    JoAnn Tier
    Moderator for Catholic Education, Diocese of Trenton
  • “When families invest in Catholic education, they are not only investing in their child, they are really setting up a legacy that will benefit not only their child, but their children’s children and beyond.”

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    Dr. Edward Gere, principal
    Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River