Jack Mirto left welcomed and inspired by Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the Eighth-Grade Graduation Mass for students attending Catholic schools in Manhattan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on May 25.
“It was a real inspiration coming to church and seeing everybody,’’ said the eighth-grader from the Epiphany School, who will attend Xavier High School in the fall.
“The way he spoke to us really got me and think about my school and how life would go on.’’
Jack was among nearly 800 children from 27 schools in Manhattan at the Mass. It was the fourth time Cardinal Dolan celebrated a regional Mass for graduating eighth-graders, offering Mass for 300 students at St. Mary’s Church in Wappingers Falls in 2015, 750 students at Sacred Heart Church in Yonkers in 2014 and 1,000 students at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church on Staten Island in 2013.
“I really don’t need to welcome you to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s home for all of us in the Archdiocese of New York,’’ said Cardinal Dolan at the beginning of the Mass.
Eighth-graders from participating schools delivered the readings, read the petitions and took up the offertory gifts.
“When we brought up the gifts, it was great,’’ Jack said. “(Cardinal Dolan) asked us a lot. You can tell he really likes kids and being around them. He asked us what school we’re going to. He blessed us. I was inspired by him.’’
Dolan also inspired the eighth-graders with his homily.
“We thank God for the gift of our Catholic schools, and we thank God for our eighth-graders for who we are so proud,’’ Cardinal Dolan said. “Catholic schools, everybody, are a gift. They’re a great gift. We don’t take them for granted. We want to say to God, ‘Thank you.’ This is a good time to do that because we congratulate you, our beloved eighth-graders. As we look out to you as eighth-graders from similar schools here in Manhattan, we look out at you with a lot of love, a lot of gratitude and a lot of pride.’’
Cardinal Dolan referred to his own elementary school days at Holy Infant School in Ballwin, Mo., in telling the children how quickly time passes. He discussed the “important lesson’’ in the reading from St. Peter by adding “only certain things last and the greatest of these is God’s word. God’s word is eternal.
“You learned a lot of valuable things, but the greatest lesson of all is you learned to know our faith and Jesus Christ will never fade away,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Everything will change. Everything else will fade away. Not our faith. Not God. We learn that in Catholic schools.’’
Mia Brito, the master of ceremonies at Mass and a student at Our Lady of Lourdes School, said her faith and Catholic education are preparing her for the future.
“They have pushed me to become a great person,’’ said Mia, who will attend the Beacon School. “They have prepared me, I feel, for the future. They showed me what the real world is like and prepared me to show you don’t always get what you want but you have to work to get what you want.
“I hope to become an even better person. I want to help people and inspire other people as well.’’