By Tony DeGol
There is a legendary country song that insists “it’s hard to be humble.”
Thanks to her time at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School in State College, the task is a lot easier for Sofia Mauro.
As a newly-graduated eighth grader, Mauro found herself reflecting on the values with which she is leaving the wonderful school.
Humility is at the top of her list, along with a stronger faith life.
Sporting blue gowns and wearing masks, Mauro and her classmates proudly marched into Our Lady of Victory church on June 5 for a simple but lovely graduation ceremony that included a Liturgy of the Word, a homily, and the distribution of diplomas and awards.
OLV is the first Catholic elementary school in the diocese to host an in-person graduation celebration this year, but at least a few others are planning similar gatherings as counties continue to re-open following the coronavirus pandemic.
“It feels great,” Mauro said after the ceremony. “I’m really happy to be able to spend time here at OLV. It has taught me so much. I really made a family here, and I love my friends, and I’ll be sad to go, but I had a great time.”
As she and her fellow OLV graduates prepare for their next chapter, Father Neil Dadey, Pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish, reminded the class that although academics matter, their relationship with the Jesus Christ is more important.
“To me, that’s what I hope Our Lady of Victory instilled in your hearts and your lives,” he stated. “So in a sense, we are sending you out to continue to witness, to continue to spread, to continue to bring about God’s kingdom on this earth through your lives of love, your lives of kindness, your lives of goodness, your lives of charity, your lives of compassion to others. That’s a tall order because it’s not just to be as you leave here, but to be a commission that the Lord gives you all your life – to live out His call.”
Be open to the Spirit and love the Lord, he urged.
Father Jonathan Dickson, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Victory, also sent his best wishes to the graduates.
“If any of you even begin to understand how much God really loves you, you’ll go out and make a huge, huge difference in this world,” he assured.
OLV Principal Samantha Weakland expressed great pride in the Class of 2020.
“Your success truly is our joy,” she remarked. “Go out and do well and do great things. Every one of you has so many gifts to give. You just need to go and do it.”
Mauro surely took those words to heart as she looks to her future.
She will attend Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg next year, and after high school, she may pursue a career as a scientist.
“I want to put my Math and Science skills to use, but I don’t have a definite plan, yet,” she said with a big smile.
The best to her and the other OLV graduates!
Editor’s Note: See video highlights of the OLV graduation on Proclaim! TV on June 14 at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23 along with a salute to all of the Catholic elementary schools families in Altoona-Johnstown.
[Photos: (Top) A group of OLV eighth grade graduates celebrate after the graduation ceremony; (First Inset) The 2020 graduating class of Our Lady of Victory School along with Father Neil Dadey, Pastor; Father Jonathan Dickson, Parochial Vicar; and Samantha Weakland, principal; (Second Inset) Father Dadey hands a diploma to one of the graduates during the ceremony.]