Graduates Urged to be ‘Light of the World’


JOYOUS: A member of the Class of 2024 makes her way to her seat during the Vincent Memorial Catholic High School's Baccalaureate Mass, held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Calexico, on Friday on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Roman Flores.)

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CALEXICO – The only Catholic high school in the Imperial Valley graduated its Class of 2024 amid prayers, blessings and a special thank you to its longtime principal.
A total of 83 students graduated from Vincent Memorial Catholic High School on May 24 at the Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Ceremony held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
The school’s principal, Sister Guadalupe “Lupita” Hernández, was named the Principal of the Year for the Diocese of San Diego. The academic year just ending was her final one at the school after serving as its leader for 12 years.
Administrators presented student awards, and awards to16 “Fidelity Families,” which have had all their children schooled in Catholic schools for 12 consecutive years, and to “Fidelity Students,” those schooled in Catholic education from grades 1-12.
In his homily at the Mass, Father Hilario Flores said the students from Vincent Memorial were being sent out much like all Christians are sent out by Christ, to be “light to the world.”
“He wants you to be light to the world — to do your best so that you can have a wonderful life,” he said.
He encouraged the graduates, whether they will attend Catholic universities or secular ones, not to lose their faith during their college years, like so many young Catholics do today.
This message resonated with Class of 2024 Valedictorian Mia Gutiérrez.
“I’m very grateful to have gone to this school,” Guitérrez said, noting that her parents had given her the option to attend a public school. “I loved my experience here because I get to incorporate my faith into my education.”
She was active in student government, choir, the drama club, mock trial, tennis and cheerleading. She plans to major in biochemistry at UCLA, and then to attend medical school to become a dermatologist.
The class’s Salutatorian, Karyme Badilla, plans to attend USC in the fall and major in business administration, then hopes to attend law school, with an eye to working in investment banking or a related career.
“To me the biggest part of my faith is just spreading kindness,” Badilla said. “That’s really important, doing charity work and helping people, so in law (I hope) to be able to do that, as well.”
Being Christ’s light in the darkness was a message echoed by other commencement speakers.
“Know that it doesn’t matter what career path you choose,” said Catholic Schools’ Superintendent Leticia Oceguera. “What matters is that you make a difference in the world, that you bring light to the darkness, peace and kindness wherever you go, that you see your fellow human beings as people. Vincent Memorial has prepared you, now go and leave your mark.”

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