This time every year I get teary-eyed as I think nostalgically about all of the proms, Junior Ring Masses, Honors’ Convocations, end-of-year banquets, awards ceremonies, Baccalaureate Masses, and graduations that have taken place at Archmere – happy times for so many students and their families. Among those happy memories, there are sad ones, as life brings us. And I especially recall this year the passing of my nephew, Pasquale, who would have graduated in 1991, but died in a car accident on the last day of exams in his freshman year in 1988. To this day, every June 3rd, I think about him. Similarly, the graduating Class of 2019 has lost one of their own, Anthony Penna, who would have been in the graduation line this June 2nd, but was taken from us tragically in a car accident on the way to school on September 29, 2017, at the start of his junior year. Over the years, we have had a number of these sad events, and, with each one, they cause us to question, “Why?” and churn in us deep emotions that we need to express to and with one another, and especially to those parents, family members, and friends who are grieving the sudden loss of someone they cherished. I have witnessed the healing, recuperative power of the Archmere community in these moments when we have lost a student, alum, parent, faculty member, staff member, or coach.
In the movie, “Miracles from Heaven”, based on a true story of a young girl who was inexplicably healed of a terminal digestive disorder, her mother, in speaking at her church after her daughter was cured, said, “Miracles are all around us.” I believe that is true, but we need to have the eyes of faith to see them. I believe that we often are unable to understand the miraculous consequences that come from hardships we are asked to bear. As Isaiah wisely prophesied, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (IS 55:9). Living through these times of joy and sadness, there are many times when we are uncertain of the path - the right thing to do - but we know that God is present and God is love, so richly expressed by the Archmere community.
From that deep reservoir of faith to which collectively generations of Archmere families have contributed, we look to the future. C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne written on June 17, 1963, offers encouragement with the words,“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” (The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3). Ironically, he was writing to her in the hospital with the prognosis that she had few days to live. However, she lived 12 more years, while Lewis died five months later. His words then have layered meaning. For our newest graduates of the Class of 2019, it is time to leave behind the days at Archmere to experience new and exciting ones in the next chapter of life. For all of us who are moving through different phases in our lives, Lewis’ words offer encouragement and the promise of our Catholic, Christian faith. “But while we are here on this earthly journey, let wring out each second, each moment that is precious.”
To the Class of 2019, know that Archmere will always be a part of you and you will always be a part of Archmere. To our parents of graduates and our undergraduates, as well, thank you for the sacrifices you make to have your children become a part of the experience Archmere. It is ritual - Junior Ring Masses, Honors’ Convocations, end-of-year banquets, awards ceremonies, Baccalaureate Masses, and graduations – and it is the heartbeat of the moment – a community’s response to the events that life’s journey brings us. Thank you to all for it all!