These past months of isolation amid stay-at-home restrictions necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic, “we’ve learned to look a lot,” Cardinal Dolan said in a YouTube video message to Catholic high school seniors who have attended classes in a home-based, distance learning capacity.
“You’ve been looking hard for the last four years—you’ve been looking at computers...at textbooks...up at the splendid teachers at our schools...around at your classmates…
“You all, with the rest of us, have looked within,” the cardinal said. “And you’ve discovered God’s presence, God’s grace, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul.
“You’ve discovered an interior resilience and resolve that maybe you didn’t know you had. You’ve been looking around at family and friends that you miss.
“You’ve been looking up to God in prayer. And that looking has served you very, very well. And through that looking, I think we’ve caught some glimpses of God, because our Catholic education teaches us that God is everywhere.”
“I’m coming to you from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue and it’s empty—there’s a lot of emptiness these days with the coronavirus, right?”
In the best of times, “like other years,” he went on to say, “I would have had two huge Masses—3,000 seniors at each Mass—to celebrate, thank God, for the accomplishment of your graduation.”
The cardinal conceded that “if this coronavirus has taught us anything,” it’s that “we don’t need physical contact, we don’t need just to be in somebody’s bodily presence to know of our affection for them. Their presence is with us.
“And we do that now, as you, Class of 2020, are united together. You’re united with God, you’re united now as alumni at the school that you’ve cherished, one of our wonderful Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of New York.”
He reminded them that they are united as well with their parents, grandparents and all the other family members “who have rooted you on and, yeah, sacrificed quite a bit so you could go to one of our splendid Catholic high schools.”
“For the rest of your lives,” said the cardinal, “when you meet somebody in your class, even though you can’t be with them now, you’re going to say, ‘Hey, we were classmates!’ And there’s a bond there that you’re going to celebrate.”
The cardinal spoke about an affirming situation he recently encountered while taking a walk near his Manhattan residence.
Ahead of him, he saw a homeless woman with a sign and, anticipating she would ask for help, he reached for his wallet. At the same time, a young man on a bicycle pulled up in front of the woman. The young man told the woman he was delivering pizzas and asked if she would like one. The cardinal said he saw the woman nod her head vigorously in agreement. “And he gave her a box with a pie in it.”
It was then, Cardinal Dolan said, that “I just got a glimpse of God.”
The young man on the bike then rode away, and soon was in closer proximity to the cardinal. While both maintained their social distance in keeping with coronavirus protocols, the cardinal thanked the young man for his charitable gesture to the woman. As they continued to converse, the cardinal learned that the young man was a senior at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx.
“That could be said of any of our Class of 2020,” the cardinal said in his video address to the graduates. “They’re trained to look for God. They’re trained to look within, to look around, and to look up. You sure have these past four years.
“Hear your archbishop, Cardinal Dolan, say I love you very much, I’m very proud of you.”
The cardinal concluded by reiterating his gratitude to the graduates’ “folks, your family, who have sacrificed to get you here” and to the school “presidents, principals and faculty, your boards, all the alumni—and now you’re one of them—who keep our first-rate schools going.
“And now I’m grateful to you. God bless you. Congratulations, Class of 2020.”
The cardinal’s address can be found at https://youtu.be/cobSH8XakTM.