We started our year together, your last here at Saint Dominic Academy, with a theme inspired by the movie Moana. And I can think of no better way to address you today than to reflect not only on all the happiness you have experienced during your senior year here, but also, the other important lessons that a movie like Moana can teach you. First and foremost, I sincerely hope that each of you can sit before me here today, close your eyes, and recall one moment of happiness you found this year. After all, that was all of our goals, yours and mine together from September onward. While I am sure you can also recall moments of sadness, of doubt and of anxiety- as I can as well, I am going to ask you to reflect for just a second on that moment of happiness you have called to mind. … Carry it with you, into next week, as you get ready for the Prom. Carry it with you, as you go to graduation practices. Carry it with you, at our mass on May 28, and of course, at graduation on June 2nd. Remember that moment of pure happiness you had as a senior at Saint Dominic Academy and keep it close to your heart; as close as Moana kept the heart of Te’ Fiti.
And now, for those lessons…
1. Listen to that voice inside you; it’s your heart talking to you. Follow it- wherever it takes you in life. The road ( or waves) may be bumpy and you may falter on the path, but as long as that voice inside you tells you to keep going- keep your head up and sail onward.
2. Never ever be afraid of feeling different. Didn’t Moana’s grandmother embody that idea? She did not care if the village thought she might “drift too far”…she knew that as long as she was happy with herself, that was what mattered. For all of us women, that is a hard lesson to learn- and if you can truly learn it as early as possible, then your life will be full of joy.
3. You are stronger than you think. Moana sailing across an ocean—is it that much different than going away to college- leaving your family behind, embarking on a new voyage or journey? There will be times next year when you think to yourself “ I cannot do this”, when you say to a friend “ I literally cannot do this anymore.” Yes, you can. You can do anything you put your mind to; remember that always!
4. When you make a mistake, fix it. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to others. There’s no shame in making a mistake, for any reason. It happens to all of us- it happens every single day. Not one of us is perfect. What makes us good people? The fact that we can own up to our mistakes and do our best to fix them.
And finally and most importantly- The ones we love never leave us, they are in our hearts always.
I can tell you this is 100% true. Those who touched your lives in one way or another will always remain with you; their influence will shape the woman you become. Whether a love one has left for a better place with God, or whether you and the friend whose hand you are holding now are going to be separated by many miles next year…if love exists, then you will never be without those you love. Listen quietly, at night, when your soul is at peace. Your loved ones will talk to you, will guide you, and will put you on the path to become who you are meant to be.
I will miss you very much next year; and if you need Saint Dominic Academy for anything…”set the course…you know the way”