Diocesan News

Bishop Brennan’s Message to Graduating 8th-graders: Continue your ‘Friendship with God’

Across the diocese, around 1500 Catholic school students filled the pews at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph to celebrate a mass for the graduating eighth-grade class. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Nico Bocchino remembers his first day as a sixth grader at Xaverian Genesis Catholic Academy three years ago. It’s his favorite memory from middle school, being welcomed by the teachers and seeing so many friendships being created.

When he graduates in a month and goes to Xaverian High School in the fall, he knows he will feel as welcome as he did then.

“I already expected to have friends going up with me, but I also expect to meet new people because everyone seems so nice,” Bocchino said.

On Friday, May 3, Bocchino had a chance to meet some of those people he will attend high school with, thanks to a combined effort by principals, teachers, and the Diocese of Brooklyn.

In anticipation and excitement for the next stage in their academic journey, Bishop Robert Brennan celebrated the graduating eighth-grade class with a Diocesan Mass on Friday, May 3 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.

Around 1,500 were in attendance, with some forced to sit in the choir loft and stand along the walls as the pews were filled with students and their teachers.

“This is really about who we are as with our Catholic schools and academies. This is what we celebrate. That we are one,” Bishop Brennan, the celebrant for the Mass, told The Tablet.

The bishop’s message to the students was one of reassurance, reinforcing the need to continue cultivating a relationship, or “friendship with God,” while relying upon the one they have already created as they enter high school.

“It really showed that we all stick together in the future [as Catholics],” said Amy Chan, from St. Peter Catholic Academy. She will also attend Xaverian High School in the fall.

While those students are looking to the next step of their lives, Deacon Kevin McCormack, superintendent of schools for the diocese, reinforced that they are not just the future — they bring energy and faith into church today.

“We don’t see the future, by the way. That’s a cliche that we use when we talk to young people — that they are the future. That somehow your time is yet to come. That is not true. Now is your time,” Deacon McCormack told the eighth graders.

Bishop Robert Brennan was the celebrant at the Mass for eighth graders on Friday, May 3. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

Leonardo Giancola will graduate from Bay Ridge Catholic Academy and attend Regis High School in the fall. He had “definitely not” been in a church as packed as the celebration on May 3 before, and felt inspired by the deacon’s words.

“We can make a difference now, not just in 20 years from now. We can do anything,” he said.