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‘This school healed the paralysis in my soul’

(Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from the speech delivered by Mr. De la Cruz, valedictorian of the Class of 2011, Sisters of Mary Boystown.)

Triumph and anticipation fill our hearts and minds today. The fulfillment of a dream lifts our spirits.

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We now rise, a thousand-strong new disciples of redemption in a world burdened by poverty, power and pride. We stand tall but humbled by the selfless dedication of compassionate hearts that raised our hopes over our desperation. And we have emerged like champions for we have the best coach on our side—our beloved alma mater!

We are also beginning to feel homesick that we will be leaving soon this home, this sanctuary, this paradise that has nursed the wounds of our misfortune and the pain of our sacrifice, and (celebrated) the victories of our struggles.

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I feel my brothers’ and sisters’ eagerness to cherish their life stories that gave meaning to this event. And I cannot help but share my own. I was in Grade 4 when tragedy struck. My father met a terrible accident that (cost him his job as) a miner, that (lost him) his capacity to provide (and achieve) his dream for the family.

We had to admit a most paralyzing truth—a bedridden father. I realized life was tough as I and the rest of the family worked our fingers to the bones to survive.

Mother had to carry the burden of providing for the family. The oldest son worked in a bus terminal. My other brother stopped schooling. I, the youngest child, collected and sold bottles, plastics and other junk after school. I had to pass up most childhood adventures to do household chores and to earn a living and care for my father.

The Sisters of Mary came like a mother rescuing a fallen child. The day I came here seemed to show me a picture of my father smiling and walking again.

This school healed the paralysis in my soul, just has it has done for every boy and girl that have lived here and just as it will do for those still to come.

The school breathed new life to our desolate spirits through the loving Father Aloysius, Mother Mary and the mother-sisters.

She made us see the merciful God through the charity of our benefactors, the needs of our neighbors and the joyful rewards from serving one another. She showed us the richness of our persons, the beauty of life, and the truth of our existence. She showed that beyond the excellence of academic and vocational education we were meant to be men and women fully alive preaching the fullness of God’s glory in everything we did for ourselves, other people and our country.

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My fellow graduates, with the motherly love and concern of the sisters, we were molded to beat the odds and make the most of every chance we got. We owe them the greatest part of our achievement.

I wonder how we would ever forget our beloved founder, Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz who chose to live in poverty so that the thousands of us may enjoy the riches of his love for the poorest of the poor. Would we ever miss in our prayers the sacrifice of Mother Michaela and Sister Maria in keeping alive Father Al’s mission and vision for our souls? The nourishing food of spiritual awareness shared by the beloved priests in confessions, holy Masses and homilies? The limitless patience of our teachers broadening our wisdom? The robust  hearts of our benefactors, who gave us a foretaste of the riches of God? The sacrifice of our parents when we are apart? The time of all the visitors who share their joy with us today?

And so we saved a special place in our hearts for each of you where we shall sing songs of gratitude our whole life through. Thank you very, very much.

Our younger brothers and sisters, you are the witnessing eyes, the listeners, and the followers of us, your Big Brothers and Sisters. May today provide you the inspiration and will to gain the prize of your perseverance and determination. Your success has started. You only need to reach the finish line.

Before we leave those gates, we should never, must never ever forget: We never were eagles in the comfort of our nests. We are eagles destined to ride the wind and rise to the heavenly joy of serving our neighbors with compassion.

To God be the glory!

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TAGS: Education, Jerald O. de la Cruz, Philippines, School, Sisters of Mary Boystown, valedictorian
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