Words from Mr. Cary Dupont ’72 – President/Chief Administrator of St. Paul Catholic High School – Class of 2023 Commencement Ceremony – May 26, 2023
Good evening! On behalf of the Class of 2023, the faculty, staff, administration and school board, welcome to the 54th 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 the Class of 2023, we celebrate each of you, fully understanding that this milestone moment didn’t come easy, acknowledging for some it may have even been harder than for others. However, the path that has led you to this point was not meant to be simple or easy for anyone. In fact, it’s the hard that makes tonight great! While the effort and accomplishments these past four years are ultimately yours, they were not achieved alone, that’s why your family, friends, teachers and coaches … why all of us here share in your celebration.
Lila and Calista, thank you for your impressive and enlightening Valedictorian and Salutatorian addresses. I enjoyed your eloquent reflections and imagery of light and sailors on the sea defining your class’s high school journey and the road that lays before you.
About two weeks ago, while sitting together as a class for the last time in the auditorium, I asked you to reflect upon your first day at St. Paul … the emotions upon your arrival that morning and later that evening at your new student convocation. And then through the unforeseen adversity endured and perseverance needed you have now arrived here in this cathedral. Let’s not lose sight of that journey nor overlook where you are right now. I ask you to personally reflect upon and capture this very moment in your hearts.
Lila said, we learned more about who we are by facing this adversity and Calista echoed, it propelled us toward a trajectory of immense growth. Cherish this moment, you earned it!
While tonight is an ending, of sorts, and we celebrate that, it’s simultaneously the beginning of a new chapter in your lives. A time to continue to move forward and focus upon your unfulfilled potential and concern yourselves not with what you have accomplished, as impressive as that might be, but with what is still possible for you to do and truly believe in your inherent potential for greatness that comes with being made in the image and likeness of God.
Calista mentioned maneuvering unchartered territory and Lila spoke about entering the unknown as feeling as though you’re walking into darkness … but not if you have the courage to genuinely and fully be the person you were created to be. For as she proclaimed, you can be the light that shines through the darkness.
Let me paraphrase the author, Marianne Williamson, who is often quoted at commencements stating our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, that it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. From your experience at St. Paul, I trust you have come to believe that you are a child of God born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. As St. Paul our patron saint proclaimed, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
To complete the Williamson paraphrase, each of you, not some of you are brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous beyond measure. You playing small doesn’t serve the world. As Lila shared earlier, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As I look out this evening, I truly believe each of you are in a different place than when you arrived that first morning at St. Paul. But 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.
We frequently speak of being the best version of ourselves … that is why 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 Blair last night at our Baccalaureate Mass, that represents the WHO you are. As a St. Paul graduate use your knowledge to not only improve your own life but also continually serve others to help improve theirs. That is the essence of a St. Paul education.
Tonight, my personal wish for you is to live a life filled in abundance with faith, hope and love as Adam 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.
If not now … when. If not you … who. The time is now, the who is you … be the light, be the captain of your ship, leave this cathedral tonight being a source of good and a living testament to making this world … your world, a better place.
Well done thy good and faithful servants, you have persevered and even thrived during the most challenging of times. 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 you.
May God bless you all on your journey.