St. Joseph’s Academy hosted the Celebration of Pentecost Sunday and 144th Commencement Exercises on May 23 at Raising Cane’s River Center. The 285 members of the class of 2021 met all standards for graduation as prescribed by the Academy and were awarded a diploma.
Lydia Poché, salutatorian, welcomed the crowd and said that while this day is traditionally a time to look forward in anticipation, it’s also a time for reflection and appreciation. “I believe an integral aspect of the SJA community is love: love from our beloved faculty and staff who have given of their time fostering our academic, spiritual and personal endeavors; love from administration who have worked tirelessly to run a successful school, even in the midst of a pandemic; love from our families who have made sacrifices to ensure an exceptional education; and lastly, love from each other,” Poché said.
Commentator Tiffany Tran acknowledged Bishop Michael Duca, who celebrated the mass, and other priests in the Diocese of Baton Rouge who joined the graduates for the celebration.
Sarah Harris read from the Acts of the Apostles, and Amber Glenn read from Galatians.
In his homily, Bishop Duca reflected on the havoc that COVID-19 wreaked on the end of the graduates’ high school years. Normal activities were halted, and expectations went unrealized. “But your learned how to bind together, which is a testament to the class of 2021,” Bishop Duca said.
Saying the graduates demonstrated flexibility and faithfulness throughout the year, he implored them now to step out in faith and move forward with a solid foundation of knowledge gained, new gifts and talents discovered and the love and support of family, teachers, friends, alumnae and Sisters of St. Joseph.
“Know that God is with you,” Bishop Duca said. “Don’t forget there is an army of people around you to help you move forward. “…They are your strength, and when you step out in faith, they are there for you. So is God. You are being sent out into the world to make a difference and to be what Jesus calls the salt of the earth. Do it in faithfulness to yourself, to those you love and to God.”
Josie Moore and Zayne Rome led the prayers of the faithful.
Following mass, SJA President Jan Breen spoke about the transformative year the graduates had experienced and discussed the ways in which they can embrace the changes that are part of life’s journey. She told the graduates to remember that they are SJA women; to listen to their inner voices; to understand the true meaning of success; to be the light of hope in the world; to live in a state of gratitude; and to open their hearts.
“Trust that God is with you every day and in every experience and will guide you in your journey,” Breen said. “In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pale in comparison to what lies inside of you.’ Remain constant and true to yourself, your beliefs and to the values you embody as SJA women. Lead the way and make your voice and ideas heard.”
Principal Stacia Andricain introduced English faculty member Jill Abadie, who called forth the graduates of 2021. Diplomas were awarded by Andricain assisted by Breen, Dean of Academics Aubrey DeJohn, Dean of Women Erika Angarita and Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Aimee Urdiales.
Following the conferring of diplomas, valedictorian Haley Marcotte reflected on the challenge of looking ahead to an uncertain future. For an “enthusiastic planner,” envisioning the future is like looking into a murky pond, she said. “Plans change, dreams change and life happens,” she said. “That is the daunting yet beautiful part. It might be difficult for some to accept, especially for me, that but is the truth. As Chaucer so correctly noted, time and tide wait for no man. It blesses us with the gift of experience, but we are only allowed to take these experiences with us through our memories and the ways in which they transform us into a better version of ourselves. Time does not allow us to have the complete satisfaction of perfect preparation because what is the joy in experiencing something already seen?”
Christin Ransome served as cantor. The SJA Women’s Choir was under the direction of Stephen Galliano and Katie Potts. Accompanists were Louis Wendt, keyboard, and Craig Heinzen, trumpet.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine