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James Evers ’17 delivers powerful Baccalaureate address

James Evers '17, Contributor

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On Tuesday, May 16, Senior James Evers delivered the following address to the senior class, their families, and faculty at Baccalaureate Mass. 

 

Class of 2017, Faculty, Staff, and Parents: Good Evening. I am truly honored to be giving this reflection to you all tonight. When Mr. Drane pulled me out of a routine physics class during senior week’s infamous Dad’s on Vacation Day, I was honestly very surprised. I had never been pulled out of class before, and I immediately feared that I wasn’t going to make it to next Sunday. Luckily, that fear proved irrational – and here we are.

To the Class of 2017, the first point I want to make today is this: I don’t want any of you to undervalue the achievement that is graduating from BC High. Each and every one of us should be proud of all the individual accomplishments we’ve made here. It’s easy to forget now, but the journey to Sunday’s graduation has been just that: a journey. BC High is meant to be challenging. All of us have been tested by BC High at some point in the past four years: be it mentally, physically, emotionally, or a combination of the three.

In tonight’s first reading, the apostles remind us that “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” What isn’t necessary, though, is for us to undergo these hardships alone. Each of us has been supported in some sense during our time in high school – in groups both inside and out of the BC High community.

In my own experience, this support is what’s driven me to do well at school. Two years ago, Kairos 73 changed the way I viewed my classmates, and helped me to grasp the depth behind every person here at BC High. I traveled to Poland last summer for the Catholic World Youth Day, and met thousands of students from across the world who shared stories of their experience with faith. I spent this past February break with the family of a Tanzanian high school student named Alvin, played soccer with him and his friends after school, and led him and his classmates in Kairos.

Though it was often the small things about BC High that comforted me on a daily basis. The mornings, afternoons and occasional evenings I spent studying in Campus Ministry led to the important friendships that I never could have expected. My AP physics group offered a level of support I never thought 2B possible. Small waves and smiles from teachers were affirmation that all the work I did was appreciated. I hope many can relate.

One of my most powerful memories from BC High is from my junior year in the St. Louis Project. It was my first time out as a leader, and I wanted more than anything to live up to the expectations that came with being one. The afternoon went smoothly – the other new leaders and I strolled around Downtown Crossing and made good conversation with many of the men and women I was familiar with: David, who takes the train from Braintree to Boston every day, Willie, who loves to laugh and tell stories, and Tom, who has one of the biggest hearts I know. As we were headed back to the train stop, my eyes were caught by an unfamiliar man on the side of Washington Street, just across from the Verizon store.

We approached the man as nonchalantly as possible — he was slightly reclined and sprawled on an electrical wheelchair, where he lay outside with eyes fixed on a non-specific spot in the city background behind us. “This is Charlie,” said one of my fellow leaders, Brendan, “and we’re going to feed him.”

As we came closer, Charlie’s eyes flitted in our direction and a broken smile flashed across his face as he recognized our group. His paralyzed body, dressed in a worn Patriots sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, stood out among the clean-cut businesspeople in the city street before him. We huddled around him as he greeted us with a hearty laugh and a “How’s it goin’, guys?” We chatted for a minute, and then I watched as Brendan and Adam, fellow St. Louis veterans who had already befriended Charlie, took turns offering him bits of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sips of water.

In the meantime, I tried to keep up the conversation as best I could. Charlie asked me about my summer, and was genuinely interested in my trip to Poland. He told us a little about his life – how he lived down the street, and had someone who took care of him – but mostly, he listened. Charlie’s happiness at his newfound company soon became apparent, as every joke that we made was met with his laugh and an exclamation of his favorite phrase: “There ya go!”. We talked for a while longer, then parted ways into the bustling streets of downtown Boston.

Why do I mention this story? Simple – it was an experience throughout my time at BC High that gave meaning to the Jesuit values I learned in the classroom. It was a time where, when I was uncomfortable, I was supported by members of our class – something I’m sure we’ve all experienced at some point. I hope this idea of supporting each other, of being men for others, is one that we can extend beyond these past four or six years. It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God – but never necessary for us to undergo these hardships alone.

As far as parting wisdom goes, I can’t say I have all that much to offer. What I can say is this: to whom much is given, much is expected. In some way, BC High has given to each and every one of us – be it strength, experience, wisdom, faith, or something else. Gentlemen, I’m not sure of the paths that our lives will take from here, but it is up to us to fulfill these expectations. Thank you faculty and staff, thank you parents, and most of all, thank you class of 2017.

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James Evers ’17 delivers powerful Baccalaureate address