Jun 7, 2014

St. Mary High School graduates pray as class one last time



Story and photos by Carolee McGrath

 WESTFIELD – Friends, families and beaming graduates gathered for the St. Mary High School Baccalaureate Mass and 111th Commencement exercises here, Friday, June 6.

After celebrating Mass, Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell and St. Mary Pastor Brian McGrath presented diplomas to thirty seniors of the St. Mary High School Class of 2014.

Jessica Forest was the class valedictorian.

“We are a family. When I look around, I see people I can trust,” Forest told the crowd during her speech. “I feel incredibly lucky to be here because I consider this class one of the greatest gifts God put in my life.”

Forest played tennis and was involved in the drama club. She is heading off to West Virginia University in Morgantown, W. Va., in the fall. She said her faith would guide her when she’s far from home.

“I love going to church. I think going to this school is definitely the best thing for me. I think it’s really important to be able to talk about religion.”

Abigail Lynn Rix was the class salutatorian.  “It was a lot of hard work, especially senior year. Everyone was kind of tied for second. After a lot of hard work and a lot of studying, I got it,” Rix told iobserve. She is going to Colby Sawyer College in New London, N. H.

Rix was also involved in St. Mary’s Respect Life Club. “At St. Mary’s, everyone’s really friendly. Everyone’s really loving and generous. It’s really nice. It’s really different than what you’d find at a public school,” she continued. “I was honored to be part of the clubs. I wouldn’t have gotten to if I didn’t go here. It opened a lot of doors.” 

In his remarks, Bishop McDonnell told the seniors to follow the words of St. John Paul II.

“Be not afraid. Don’t be afraid. He (St. John Paul II) is reminding us if we’re in love with God, we don’t have to be afraid of anything,” said Bishop McDonnell. “Do your best and put everything in God’s hands and don’t be afraid. God does love each one of you.”

Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik was also in attendance and briefly addressed the graduates before Mass.

“Seniors, you’re at the end of one great journey… our parish family is extremely proud of you. Our city is proud of you.”

Father Brian McGrath said the class began their high school experience by attending Mass together and wanted them to graduate in the same way.

“We are rooted in our Catholic faith. Not everyone in our class in Catholic, but all of us have this wonderful experience with God in our lives, both from their education of basic subject, but (also) from theology, friendships, (and) the sports. All that has always been imbued with a Catholic presence.”

A special news report featuring the graduation ceremonies of the Springfield Diocese’s four Catholic high schools will air on the June 21 edition of “Real to Reel” at 7 p.m. on WWLP-22NEWS.