Hendricken grads told ‘don’t get too comfortable’

By John Howell
Posted 6/14/16

With Principal Joseph “Jay” Brennan’s advice not to become too comfortable with their lives, 232 Bishop Hendricken High School graduates crowded into the courtyard of the Cathedral of Saints …

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Hendricken grads told ‘don’t get too comfortable’

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With Principal Joseph “Jay” Brennan’s advice not to become too comfortable with their lives, 232 Bishop Hendricken High School graduates crowded into the courtyard of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul Friday evening and kept the tradition of simultaneously tossing their caps into the air.

It was the school’s 55th commencement ceremony, and like so many others it ran like clockwork, from the playing of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” for the processional to the remarks and final blessing given by the Most Rev. Robert C. Evans, Auxiliary Bishop of Providence.

But in the midst of so much order Brennan drew upon the advice of his parents and told the graduates, “don’t get too comfortable.” He said accomplishments don’t come easily and frequently require stepping outside “our comfort zones.”

Brennan applied the axiom to all phases of life and in particular to relationships.

“Relationships are precious possessions,” he said. “Work at these relationships in a selfless manner.”

He mentioned the importance of nurturing relationships with friends, family and God.

“Never get too comfortable with your relationship with God…always work to bring yourself closer to God,” he said.

Student speakers, valedictorian Riley Chabot and salutatorian Andrew Denkewicz, spoke about the value of the school to their lives and how the experience they gained in the Hendricken community will serve them in the years to come.

“It is much more than a high school. Bishop Hendricken is the community,” said Denkewicz, whose selection as salutatorian was made by the slimmest of class placements. Miles Temel ranked third in the class, and in welcoming remarks Vincent Mancuso talked of Temel’s accomplishments as a member of the student body and as a middle school student who created a company that continues to collect cooking oil from restaurants and convert it into heating oil, with more than 30,000 gallons used as fuel assistance for needy families.

Denkewicz talked about commitment not only on the part of his fellow classmates but their families and especially Hendricken teachers.

“Tell your favorite teacher how much they meant to you,” he urged. And he reminded the graduates, “you are surrounded by a community that truly loves you.”

Valedictorian Chabot, a National Merit Scholarship recipient with Nicholas Roy and top scorer in the Academic Decathlon team that placed second in its school division in the national competition, spoke about how the school changed in the years he was there and what is next for his classmates. Chabot is the recipient of a Joseph Healey Scholarship. Healey, a member of the Class of 1984, is one of the school’s major benefactors, having given the school more than $1 million and sponsoring 17 students at the school.

Chabot talked of how graduation opens another chapter in life, offering more opportunity for friends and advancement.

“The Class of 2016 distinguished itself as one of the best we’ve seen,” school President John Jackson said in closing remarks. He asked rhetorically, “Is Bishop Hendricken a school that celebrates its faith?”

He answered with a “resounding, yes.”

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