The following is the welcome address given at the 132nd and final Cathedral High School graduation.
By Julianna Campbell
Class of 2016
Bishop Rozanski, Sr. Andrea, Mayor Sarno, Mr. Miller, Mrs. O’Connell, Faculty and Staff, Parents and Friends, and the Class of 2016- Good Morning, my name is Julianna Campbell. Welcome to the graduation of the class of 2016. It has been a long four years, filled with many trials but also laughter and joy. Together we have endured more than what most high-schoolers face. We have made the best of what we had, regardless of the size and quality of the building. We have challenged each other and grown despite our class size. Every single obstacle that came our way, we faced it…together. We all have many unforgettable memories and I believe that I speak for the whole class when I say that it is a privilege to have gotten to know all fifty-three of my peers.
This years theme at Cathedral, was mercy. It is a perfect way to say goodbye to the legacy of Cathedral, while remaining hopeful for the future. I would like to share with you an excerpt from Pope Francis’s homily on Divine Mercy Sunday April 7, 2013.
“The Apostle Thomas personally experiences the mercy of God. … Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: “We have seen the Lord.” … And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief … He does not close the door, He waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. “My Lord and my God!”: with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by Divine Mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in His open side, and he discovers trust.”
Trust. He discovers trust. There are many times in these past few years when we often found it difficult to trust. Many of us came to Cathedral hoping to be on Surrey Road by our junior or senior year, but this was no guarantee. Junior year, when the future of Cathedral was in jeopardy, it was difficult to imagine our lives without our beloved school. The important thing to remember is that throughout our four years together, we may have doubted, become discouraged, or questioned our purpose but no matter what the Divine Mercy of God was present. It was present in the steady dedication of our teachers, the positivity of all the faculty and staff, and the moments of laughter emerging from every class. Whether it be overcoming an impossible Mr. Brodeur test together, the end of the year cookouts and baseball games, the Christmas celebrations, Ms. Leone and the library, or Mr. Dewey and his sarcastic jokes….these moments of joy are what kept us hopeful and fighting to make every single moment count.
It is a unique and powerful opportunity to be the last graduating class of Cathedral, but it is one we are honored to receive. Neighbors and friends always asked me “Do you regret your decision to go to Cathedral?” Every time, without hesitation, I said “no”. I have grown as person, in every aspect and in ways that I would not be able to elsewhere. It may have been challenging but these difficult times have molded us into persistent and dedicated leaders. If I had the chance to go back and do it all over again, I would make the same decision. I would come to Cathedral, where I would be met with teachers who love their jobs and students who would become some of my best friends.
I want to take a moment, on behalf of the class, to thank our teachers. There is no group of people more willing to offer help or words of wisdom than this group of people sitting before us. Going forward, leaving behind the safety of Cathedral, our dedicated teachers and staff, and the comfort of childhood, we must trust. We have to trust in our abilities, our talents, and ultimately God. No matter what happens we will find Cathedral and God’s divine mercy wherever we go. We just have to look for it. Cathedral is more than a building, it is a way of being. It is about persistence, dedication in the face of hardship, and mercy towards all. Cathedral may not physically exist anymore after this morning, but it will live on forever- in our legacy.