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Graduates, you are connected to the Church

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 1, 2020

Editor’s note: The following is Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s address to the Immaculate Heart Central Class of 2020. It was delivered at an outdoor graduation celebrated June 26.

Ever since the beginning of this pandemic we heard the phrase, “We are in this together.” I couldn’t help but think of the image that St. Paul gives us of the Church as the Body of Christ: when one member hurts, we all hurt, when one member celebrates, we all rejoice. By virtue of our baptism, we are sisters and brothers in Christ. Although we’ve had to do some serious social distancing and isolating, we have learned during these trying times, haven’t we, just how connected we are with one another?

Just think about what we’ve been doing to help others such as food drive-throughs. With patience and kindness, we have become more conscious of the health of others, so we wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines. We’ve seen and experienced the ways that people go the extra mile for us – on-line classes and how we observe special events: drive-by birthday celebrations and graduations, as well as outdoor graduations.

I’ve seen, too, how hurt people are when we don’t feel connected such as when a family can’t have a funeral Mass in church inviting everyone. We see people donating their blood, health care workers working unbelievable hours and cheering COVID-19 patients on as they leave the hospital, recovered from the virus. We’ve seen people at home making face masks for others. These are just a few examples of how we experience our connectedness.

Even before the virus invaded our space, IHC has provided an environment for you, our graduates, to experience what it means to build up and support this Body of Christ. You’ve grown in knowledge of the wonders of God’s creation in and outside the classroom. You have been participants and leaders not only in academics and sports, but in Faith Community Service. You support a girls’ school in Africa and serve at tables at special events in the area. You’ve been connecting long before the corona virus arrived and will be long after the dreaded disease is history.

Graduates, know that wherever you find yourself in years to come, you are connected in a sure bond of love with your Church. When things go great, celebrate with your parish family, when you find yourself feeling alone and hurting, turn to your parish family. No matter where you travel or end up calling ‘home,’ there is a Catholic parish waiting to welcome you. Be a participant not a spectator.

Live and share the Good News and enjoy the blessings God has in store for each of you. As the English poet John Donne once penned,

No person is an island entire of itself,
Every person is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were,
As well as any manor of thy friend’s,
Or of thine own were.

Any person’s death diminishes me.
Because I am involved in humankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Congratulations to our seniors here at Immaculate Heart Central as you cap off a most challenging final year of high school. Thank you to Mr. Charlebois, our faculty and staff who have truly been heroes of flexibility, creativity and just plain hard work to keep us all connected. Congrats to our proud parents and family members. God Bless you all!

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