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Class of 2020: It’s not what you have missed, but what has strengthened you — Louis De Angelo

Louis De Angelo, Diocese of Wilmington superintendent of schools, takes part in the livestream Mass for Catholic schools May 13.

To the Class of 2020.

Gee, what was it like?  This question will be asked of the Class of 2020 multiple times as you mature into your future.  Children and grandchildren will wish to know how you survived the pandemic of 2020, how long were you quarantined, and what mattered most to you during the time period.

Of course, you’ll be able to regale them with lots of stories about what you did or didn’t do, how life changed so dramatically, and yes, even a bit of the fear that was sparked by the pandemic.  But, the most interesting story to be shared will be how you experienced your final three months of high school in a way that may be a once in a century (or more) happening.

While some may look at the past three months as a time of what was missed, you look at it as an adventure unlike none other.  These months were a season of ingenuity, creativity, and excitement.  Like pioneers, explorers, and discoverers, you had to find new ways to live life and make it meaningful.

Yes, we acknowledge with disappointment that proms did not occur, trips were cancelled, ceremonies were altered, and celebrations were curtailed.  However, the pandemic was an event that taught you to really appreciate the beauty of home, the significance of time spent with family, and the simplicity of nature.  Never before was technology so necessary to keep you connected to friends and classmates.  Prayer, contemplation, reading, writing, music, art, exercise – all of these elements meant more to you than in the past because you didn’t just do them, you thoughtfully enjoyed them.

As you travel on a new path, don’t forget what you have learned about life, what’s important and what is not, who was on your mind and in your heart during these pandemic days.  Plan to approach the next phase of your life with the same energy and enthusiasm that occupied your changed lifestyle for the past 12 weeks.

Above all, remember who you are and whose you are.  You are greater than any one characteristic or flaw you may attribute to yourself.  Your character has been illuminated in these three months of the pandemic by the way you faced the challenges that came your way.  More importantly, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and through prayer, worship, community, and service, you have proven yourself to be His follower.

Take with you the message of Saint Paul to the Philippians (4:13) as you encounter the future.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Congratulations Class of 2020!