PROVIDENCE — On Friday, June 8, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, with Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans presiding, 209 young men processed into the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence to the powerful strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” and took their places before the Bishop Hendricken Choir performed a stirring rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The setting was most appropriate as the graduates marked their transition from students to Hendricken alumni in the cathedral built during the tenure of Bishop Thomas Hendricken, the first Bishop of Providence. School Chaplain Father Christopher Murphy offered a prayer for the school’s namesake as students placed flowers at the marble sarcophagus that serves as his final resting place.
Salutatorian Steve Huang, an international student from China, spoke of how he never dared to imagine himself standing in such a place of honor four years ago when he first came to Bishop Hendricken. Despite having attended an international school in China for many years prior, he was neverthess scared of the possibility of encountering culture shock and personal disorientation. But he would go on to succeed in many areas with a host of achievements credits the personal connections he has forged with members of the Hendricken community with propelling him to along the path to success.
“Speaking of the profound influence of every member of our community on others, I would like to point out that the friendships and connections we have built over the past four years are ultimately the most valuable treasure that we can take with us as we walk out the door of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul,” Huang said.
Class Valedictorian Dylan Temel recalled a prescient conversation he had a couple of years ago with one of his teachers who told him that the thing about faith is that it has to change your life. Since then, he has seen how his own faith has helped him to make sense of a rapidly changing world.
“We live in strange times, with a number of strange tests of faith,” Temel said. “Incomprehensible acts of violence and hatred test our faith in peace and love. Increasing geo-political and social instability tests our faith in order and a natural law. Horrific natural disasters test our faith in the sanctity of nature.”
Bishop Hendricken President John Jackson closed the commencement ceremony noting how difficult it is for him to have to follow his school’s accomplished valedictorian and salutatorian in addressing the gathering each year. Still, he noted, the accomplishments of this year’s duo are especially noteworthy.
“This may be the strongest one-two punch that I have ever seen in the history of Bishop Hendricken High School” he said.