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Saint Bernard grads told 'people of faith can make a difference'

Norwich — Friday was a day for celebrating the Saint Bernard School's Class of 2017.

That's what Emily De La Cruz thought, at least, when her sister Lazhel crossed the front of the Cathedral of Saint Patrick to receive her diploma.

"I'm so proud!" she shouted, her voice bouncing off the ornate walls of the cathedral. "Woo!"

The outburst in the otherwise nearly silent ceremony earned her some shushes from the other guests.

Let them shush, De La Cruz, who graduated from Saint Bernard last year, said.

"Some rules have to be broken," she said after she had found her sister in the crowd that gathered outside the church Friday evening. "It's just graduation — it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

The school graduated 61 students Friday.

Julia Plunkett, the senior class speaker, told her classmates that she had arrived at Saint Bernard as an "insecure freshman."

"I was quiet, nervous, awkward and disinterested in everything except for music," she said. "My 'ideal career' was that of a waitress, just in case my dream of becoming the next Joan Jett or Janis Joplin fell through."

High school, she said, has led her instead to college, though she hasn't given up on her dream of being a musician.

"I have met tremendous students from everywhere and with interests in everything from theater to science, math to sports and religion to politics," she said. "Even though our interests are diverse, I have learned many lessons from them. We may be different but we care about each other."

Henry Fiore, the superintendent of Diocese of Norwich schools, delivered an address on behalf of Saint Bernard headmaster Donald Macrino, who is recovering from surgery.

With the movement of the tassels on their graduation caps, Macrino told them they had reached a significant milestone in their lives.

But, he wrote, the diploma is only the beginning. "There is much to be done," he wrote.

Bishop Michael R. Cote had a similar message. In the wake of the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, on Monday, in which a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 64, Cote told the graduates to remember the Christian reminder to love their neighbors, "even those we find difficult to love."

"People of goodwill can make a difference," he told them. "And people of faith can make a difference."


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