Be courageous: Aim high, take risks – and radiate joy

A message from JoAnn Tier, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Trenton

JoAnn Teir, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, presents a diploma to a 2018 graduate of St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel.

The mission of each Catholic school is rooted in the teachings of Jesus. The manner in which the expression of faith is evidenced is often accentuated in school traditions. The Baccalaureate Masses for the Class of 2018 provided beautiful expressions of faith, while the graduation ceremonies underscored the uniqueness of each school.

Distinctive to St. John Vianney High School was the dual enrollment program with SJVHS and Brookdale Community College, in which nine graduates received not only high school diplomas, but also associate degrees. At the Baccalaureate Mass for Red Bank Catholic, family members spanning three generations of alumni and evidencing commitment to Catholic education were invited to light the alumni candle. During graduation exercises, alumni of Trenton Catholic Academy, St. John Vianney High School and St. Rose High School were requested to address the Class of 2018 and provide words for reflection. Outstanding educators were recognized at Holy Cross Academy and St. Rose High School. Notre Dame High School graduates presented their service learning program, which underscored over 12,000 hours of service to the less fortunate. Graduates of both Notre Dame High School and Holy Cross Academy took delight in receiving diplomas from their parents who were also graduates of the schools. The choirs and orchestras of Donovan Catholic, Red Bank Catholic and Notre Dame touched the hearts of all in attendance.

The pride of administrators and teachers, the love of parents and the bonds of friendship formed by the students were central to all.

The 1,535 graduates are to be congratulated for being awarded over $225 million in scholarships. With the guidance of administrators, faculty, and staff and with personal rigor, self-discipline and commitment, the graduates of 2018 will use their education to inspire, to create, and to contribute to our complex world.

Graduates, as the next chapter of your lives becomes tomorrow, may your life be filled with wisdom that transcends knowledge – the wisdom to know that you matter as a traveler on this planet. The journey will be filled with experiences of joy and disappointments; experiences of failure and regret; experiences of exhilaration and confusion. Realize that you matter. You are a miracle created by God. In His infinite wisdom, you were given gifts to be shared with others. No one possesses all the genius, skills and talents. We are called to use our special gifts as we connect with each other, as we support each other, as we forgive each other, as we listen and understand and love each other. In doing so, we blend our talents for the good of all and emulate the teachings of Jesus.

Embrace the freedom to know that with imperfections and flaws, during this time of becoming and making mistakes and having self-doubts, that there is perfection in the process, and that you are loved unconditionally.

Embrace the courage to aim high; the courage to live your ideals; the courage to follow your heart’s desire; the courage to do the work that gnaws at you inner core for expression. Embrace the courage to explore, to create, to take risks, to fail and to grow.

The human experience requires grace and the ability to learn throughout life. It requires humility and courage to take risks. It requires faith in God and belief in the human spirit. It requires vulnerability.

Radiate joy and compassion as you are immersed in a world of opportunity, a world that will be enriched by your presence.

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