Commencement Exercises for Class of 2024

May 29, 2024 - 4:21 pm

What a great night to celebrate our class of 2024!

To watch the commencement exercises – follow this link to the Cathedral of St. Joseph website –

If you have photos you’d like to share of the graduation please email

Mr. Cary M. Dupont – Class of 2024 Commencement Speech – 5/24/24

Good evening! On behalf of the Class of 2024, the faculty, staff, administration and school board, welcome to the 55th Commencement Exercises for St. Paul Catholic High School on this glorious beginning to our Memorial Day Weekend. How exciting and inspiring it is to be in this magnificent Cathedral of St. Joseph, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Hartford. For this beautiful and special occasion, we give our collective thanks to Almighty God.

To begin tonight’s program, I proudly call upon the Rev. Matthew Collins, Class of 2012 and a member of the St. Paul School Board, to deliver the invocation.

The St. Paul community is very grateful to the Archdiocese of Hartford and all at the Center for Catholic Education & Formation for their financial support, guidance and valued partnership. Bringing greetings from the Archdiocese is Mrs. Valerie Mara, Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

I’d like to acknowledge some other special guests in attendance this evening:

Rev. Anthony Giampietro, President of St. Anselm’s Abbey School in Washington, DC and uncle to graduate Rose Wells

Rev. Ed Przygocki ’72 a classmate and dear friend from Holy Apostles College & Seminary

Mrs. Eileen Regan, former President of Sacred Heart High School and member of the SP School Board

To Mr. Cooper, Mr. Wallace, other members of my administrative team, distinguished St. Paul faculty, staff and coaches, thank you for you your tireless efforts to deliver on our collective promise to be a truly great Catholic high school. Your caring servant ministry of faith, mercy and love has never been harder and does not go unnoticed. I ask that you please stand and be recognized!

Tonight, I extend on behalf of our students and faculty our bittersweet goodbye to Sr. Mary Mercy Lee. Sister will be leaving St. Paul at the end of this school year having been reassigned by her religious order, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, to Rome beginning later this summer. Sister has served St. Paul for seven years as our freshman religion teacher and campus minister. She has contributed profoundly to expanding the faith life at St. Paul, most recently initiating the Assistant Campus Ministry program. To say she will be missed by would be an understatement. Sister, thank you for leaving your mark and I know a part of your heart at St. Paul!

To the Class of 2024 we celebrate each of you. While the effort and accomplishments these past four years are ultimately yours, let me remind you that all of this was not achieved alone, for even a simple kite needs a push, a gentle breeze to soar on a spring day. That’s why your family, friends, teachers and coaches … why all of us here share in your celebration.

For the decision to send you to St. Paul, for the selfless sacrifices they have made, for the unconditional love and encouragement they have given you, for the times that you may have unintentionally taken them for granted along this journey, I ask you to stand and turn to your parents/guardians, grandparents, other family members and friends and join me in thanking them for this well-deserved and proud moment.

We have twelve legacy parents including two grandparents from the first graduating Class of 1970 here this evening – first generation alumni who have sons and daughters and granddaughters graduating this evening. Thank you for passing down the St. Paul tradition from one generation to the next. Would you mind standing and be recognized?

Finally, I wish to extend a warm welcome to everyone watching this graduation ceremony being live streamed this evening throughout our extended Falcon Nation. As we all come together, I offer my personal and sincere thanks, on many fronts, to everyone for making this memorable evening in our graduates lives possible.

Before presenting your diplomas, I wish to acknowledge Anna and Brianna. Those were beautiful graduation addresses capturing your class’ experience at St. Paul and reflective thoughts and advice as you enter your unknown future. Allow me to take a moment to similarly reflect upon the last four years.

For many of you that began in the fall of 2019 (two thousand nineteen) when you may have come to an open house, shadowed and eventually took our placement exam. In preparing my remarks this evening, I reread your placement exam writing samples that asked you to comment on one of our five core values and further indicate why you wanted to attend St. Paul Catholic High School. Here’s a sampling of what you said:

Perfect fit for me

Make many friends

Prepare me for college

I still have to find out who I am as a person

Feeling welcomed and safe

Going to school with a sense of belonging

Good academic school

Family friendly environment

Being a student here will develop my character

Eventually figuring out my way in the world

Love learning more about God

There are many extra-curricular options, something to suit everyone’s interests

When I first stepped into SP I just got a feeling that I belonged

Nice and supportive teachers

Their values, reputation and environment

Excellent academic, drama and sports programs

Smaller population and feeling of unity as one school family

Right place for me

I love the little chapel

One person can do many things but what that person can do is nothing compared to what a community can do

Continue my religious education

I just want the best education and high school experience

Teachers are very kind and passionate

Feeling of family and community

Giving back to the community in service astounds me

A new environment where everyone helps each other out

Like to be a falcon

Seems like a family

Faith is an absolute number one priority

Make new friends develop new skills and learn new things

My mom is an alum

Will push me to my limits

Pictured myself going to SP since I was 8 years old

Will give me what is needed for academic success

My brother told me the food is really good

Transform me to be a better person

Want to be taught faith in my everyday learning

Will challenge me to the best of my ability

Make long lasting friendships

Great academic program

A place that I will feel truly at home

When I graduate I hope to have character with kindness, compassion and good judgement

Good supportive community

I want to become a better person

I’ve been told private schools look really good on college applications so that I am able to get a good job that pays a lot of money

Perfect place for me

Pretty profound comments for 8th graders.

And then some months later on Monday, August 31st  2020 your first day of high school arrived and you anxiously showed up at St. Paul in masks, had your temperature taken to enter the building, and were told not to get to close to each other stay 6’ apart. That was for those of you who came to school in-person. For some of you, your first day of high school was remote over Zoom. Seems relatively normal.

And for others in your class, eleven of you, your first day at St. Paul was the following August, 2021 when you arrived for your sophomore year following the closure of Sacred Heart High School.

While the unforeseen pandemic and unplanned transfers presented understandable challenges, the irony is it taught us all some valuable life lessons outside of the classroom. These lessons again in your words were: be grateful … appreciate what I have because at any moment it could all change; even when times are tough we can find a way; and just keep moving forward.

So let’s fast forward …

As I look out this evening, you are in a different place than when you arrived at St. Paul. Undoubtedly, the path that has led you to this milestone moment didn’t come easy and for some it may have even been harder than for others. However, our journey to this point was never meant to be simple or easy for anyone. In fact, it’s the hard that makes tonight great!

While the unforeseen adversity endured and the perseverance needed has brought you here to this cathedral tonight your defining moments over the last four years comes from your impressive success in the classroom, in the field of athletics, on the performing arts stage, in the co-curricular opportunities including the creation of new student driven clubs, the extensive outreach service initiatives and in the relationships developed with each other. Let me pause and let you reflect upon your personal journey and cherish this celebratory moment because you earned it!

So, what’s next?

While tonight is an ending, of sorts, and we celebrate that, it’s simultaneously the beginning of a new unchartered chapter in your lives. A time to move forward and focus upon your unfulfilled potential and concern yourselves not with what you have accomplished, albeit impressive, but with what is still possible for you to do and for you to truly believe in your inherent potential for greatness that comes with being made in the image and likeness of God.

For you see our journey together wasn’t just to prepare you for tonight, Instead, it’s been to intentionally prepare you for the rest of your life. Hopefully, by virtue of your experience at St. Paul, our core values of faith, character, community, excellence and service were transformed from simple words to a deeper understanding and the living fabric of your being.

You graduate from St Paul with both a diploma, attesting to the knowledge gained, that is the WHAT you learned and a servant towel given to you by Archbishop Coyne last night at our Baccalaureate Mass, that represents the WHO you are. As I’ve said before, this is the essence of a St. Paul education … to use your knowledge to not only improve your own life but also to serve others to help improve theirs. It’s in the WHAT you learn and more importantly WHO you are where you will come to encounter your WHY… the answer to your search for purpose and meaning in your own life’s journey … your reason for being.

I encourage you to have the confidence and courage to genuinely be the person you were created to be and accept nothing less … you certainly weren’t born to be ordinary. In Archbishop Coyne’s homily last night, he shared to be great takes practice, practice and more practice. Being great … being the best version of yourself doesn’t come by accident, it’s intentional.

God gave you a free will. As educated young people, coming of age in our globally interconnected and increasingly fragmented world, the future will not be any easier than what you experienced the last four years. But I have no doubt, you’re prepared for this next exciting time in your lives.

My personal wish for you is to live a life filled in abundance with faith, hope and love as Emily proclaimed, a life filled with found purpose and passion; a life filled with gratitude, the healthiest of all human emotions; a life filled with hard work striving for excellence; a life filled with deep concern for others, a life so filled with conviction and the values of Jesus Christ that people everywhere will know more peace, more joy, more self-respect because they have come in contact with you. Leave this cathedral tonight being a source of good and a living testament to making this world … your world for the better, one relationship at a time.

Well done thy good and faithful servants, you have persevered and even thrived. But now the time has come for you to leave the comfort of the nest, to spread your Falcon wings and soar across this world following the exciting and diverse plans that lay in front of each of you. Do so with youthful enthusiasm, unafraid of making mistakes or burdened by regrets, instead confident in the brilliance, compassion and unlimited potential that characterizes each of you.

Take care of yourself, take care of others and may God bless you and hold you in the gentle palm of His hand … all the days of your lives.

Mrs. Mara, having fulfilled the requirements for graduation as set forth by St. Paul Catholic High School, the Archdiocese of Hartford, and the State of Connecticut, as president/chief administrator and an alum of this school, it gives me great pleasure to present to you for the purposes of granting diplomas, the Class of 2024.

Congratulations one last time to the Class of 2024. Tonight’s benediction will be delivered by the Rev. Matthew Collins.