In 2002, the graduating classes of Niagara Catholic’s eight Catholic secondary schools were the first to come together for a singular celebration of their 14 years of Catholic education.
On May 15, the Class of 2015 was feted by Bishop Bergie, Trustees, Senior Staff, elementary school principals and Board staff during the 14th Annual Niagara Catholic Graduation Celebration.
This year’s event took place at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls, hosted, as is the tradition, by Niagara Catholic’s student trustees. In his opening address, Ken Griepsma, Principal of Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School reminded students that whatever lies ahead for them, they are indelibly linked to their schools, and Niagara Catholic. “You carry the rich heritage, teachings, values and culture of a Catholic education as your foundation into the next chapter of your life.”
In his address to students, Bishop Bergie urged students to build upon this foundation and to carry it forward, being the hands and faces wherever they go. He stressed that in an increasingly secular world, where we are frequently disappointed by others and disappoint those around us, that Jesus is the friend who will never disappoint.
“All of these things can weigh us down,” said Bishop Bergie. Yes, there is bad news in the world, but there is far more good news. “You know, after 14 years of Catholic education, that there is far more good news than bad. Our Catholic schools are build upon a solid rock, a solid foundation.”
He encouraged students to continue to seek a friendship with God.
“Friendship with God! What an incredible gift,” said Bishop Bergie. “Jesus Christ is the friend who will never let you down and his presence is with all of us during challenging times.
“Go forth, Niagara Catholic,” he urged, “and set this world on fire.”
Director of Education John Crocco also echoed the message of using their Catholic education to leave the world a better place.
“Your Catholic education has taught you to connect in a meaningful way; to build relationships in person, not via texting or messaging, but in person, to connect to something greater than yourself,” he said. “We need you to lead our complex world; from environmentalists to economists, educators to community leaders, religious vocations to working for peace, working for equality, working for justice. Your task is to make our world better than it is today, to be the difference that you want to see in our world. And remember, one heart with courage is a majority. Grads, my prayer for all of you is to be strong, be committed, be faithful and be who God called you to be and make a real impact on our society as a Catholic graduate.”
The keynote speaker was Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson, a theologian from Chicago. Dr. Nelson-Johnson was an incredible rapport with young people. His presentation focused on showing youth how important their contribution to society is, regardless of their age or what they do. He recounted stories from his own life, including a story in which a fellow passenger on a plane intermittently blurted out “Oh for God’s sake” while on a flight, and urged graduates – and everyone in the audience – to do three things “for God’s sake”: Take good, bold risks, find your passion then bend it toward generosity and create life that absorbs pain.
View more photos from the 2015 Graduation Celebration on our Facebook page.
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