COLUMBIA — Seventy-five students graduated from Cardinal Newman School at commencement ceremonies held May 30 at the Township Auditorium.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone attended the ceremony and presented diplomas to the graduates, along with Principal Jacqualine Kasprowski; Sister Julia Hutchison, SND, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Charleston; and Michael Bolchoz, assistant principal.
Benedictine Father Boniface Patrick Hicks was the commencement speaker. Members of the senior class selected him after he served as spiritual director at a KAIROS retreat they attended during their junior year.
Father Hicks is an assistant professor in the Department of Computing and Information Science at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and is also an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania State University.
He encouraged the class to develop a prayerful perspective as they look back on high school and toward their future in college and beyond.
“Live the past with gratitude and purified memories,” he said. “We have all made mistakes, but Christ’s love and forgiveness are always available to us. Consider what are the gifts God has given you, and let go of wounds that have left you bound in the past.
“God is moving in you and giving you strength,” he said.
He described the lives of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, as examples of how people can achieve holiness both through pursuing a vocation to religious life and through married life. He stressed the fact that the students can put the Lord at the center of whatever life and career paths they choose.
“God has given the grace to each one of you to strive for holiness. Do little things with great love,” Father Hicks said. “It is not so important that we be successful as we be faithful. I have great confidence that God is doing great things in you. You have a deep goodness deep in your hearts.
“I pray you will use the gift of God himself to serve the poor, reach out to the little ones and look forward with confidence to a future for yourselves and your loved ones,” he said.
The two student speakers carried on with Father Hicks’ theme of pursuing a life of goodness rather than material wealth.
Salutatorian Johnie Hodge gave a speech about the importance of seeking true success that transcends material desires. Hodge plans to attend Clemson University’s Honors College and major in engineering.
“I learned many things at Cardinal Newman about what we must do to continue living happy lives,” Hodge said. “Success is not measured always by money. Money instead should be a pleasant side effect of doing something we care deeply about.”
Valedictorian Rahoul Ahuja will attend the University of South Carolina Honors College in pre-med.
In his speech, Ahuja described some of the class of 2009’s academic and social accomplishments, and encouraged his classmates to remain true to themselves despite the pressures they will face in adult life.
“At Cardinal Newman, we gained power over ourselves, and what we learned gives us power to influence everyone we meet positively,” Ahuja said. “Everyone in the class recognized at some point that we were all unique. Throughout high school, everyone wants to be accepted. But now we need to stop fitting in and start standing out. Don’t allow yourself to be stereotyped. Are you just going to do what brings you money, or something that signifies that inner you? We should live our lives as role models for others.”
Before offering the benediction, Bishop Guglielmone told the class they had a lot to be proud of and noted that they were nurtured on their high school journey not only by their families, but by a caring faculty and staff at the school.
“We are fortunate to have such a wonderful school in this diocese,” he said. “You are the personification of so much that is good. Use the power you have to make this world so much better. Millions will be able to be changed by the goodness of so many people here.”