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A Visitation Journey
Emma Eder '17

Emma Eder '17 gave the Baccalaureate address to graduates on Monday.

Like all great books, our lives are masterpieces that only we can tell. They do not fill physical, ink-smudged pages with scribbles of our experiences. They are not dusty records of every emotion, decision, or interaction that, in some way, further defined us. Our stories are alive. We create ourselves, developing as complex characters, enriching our living stories with the people we meet and the memories we share.

Over the past four years, a formative part of our stories unfolded in the setting of Georgetown Visitation. The rhythm of daily life met the symphony of laughter and shrieks and shouts across the Commons or playroom or Lodge. The warmth of friendly smiles combatted hot tears of frustration. The days inched by, but the years flew by, leaving some of us questioning if we want to move on or to stay forever young.

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At this turning point in our lives, it's natural to revisit major plot points of the past four years. Remember your favorite class, your happiest memory, your most challenging moment, your biggest regret, and your most surprising discovery about yourself. While plot chronicles what happened in your years here, the meaning of our interconnected stories lies in the so what. How have your classmates changed you? What lessons do we take with us? What questions are still unanswered? Reflect on this so what component as together we flip back to...

Chapter 1. Four years ago, even before graduating from eighth grade, we gathered at the Welcome Mass for Freshmen in May of 2013. We dove into the world of meeting new people and trying to remember their names. Be friendly, don't laugh so loudly that your voice screeches, try to be funny but don't say anything weird, I coached myself.

Once school started, we little freshmen bustled across campus in our signature bright yellow polos and stiff green kilts, scurrying up the long hill to St. Joe's and panting up the staircase to Sharpe. Along the way, we ran smack into a discouraging test grade, stumbled across new friends, tried new activities, accepted disappointment with grace, and embraced new opportunities with enthusiasm. Daily we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones, and as we adjusted, the year of firsts slowly went by until...

Chapter 2. Sophomore year. No longer the youngest on campus, we figured we had life under control now that we had a feel for the place. We wise fools stood a little taller and spoke a little more confidently. Even the motto on our Sophomore Spectacular t-shirts, "Can't touch us," revealed our attitude of invincibility. We grew closer to upperclassmen. We sought God in the people we served. We persevered through more difficult classes but eventually needed time to bond as a class, which we had the chance to do in...

Chapter 3. The year of unity. I am because we are. As juniors we took time away from the intensity of the school environment to talk to each other about faith and family and personal setbacks. Some groups cried together and some casually pondered the mysteries of getting older. With renewed affirmation and love for our class, we returned to school, reminded of the power of being a part of something greater than ourselves. At Ring Ceremony, we passed on the symbol of our friendship--A circle is round, it has no end, that's how long I want to be your friend. We then embarked on the final stage of our high school journey, which culminated in...

Chapter 4. Senior year. The oldest ones in the school, we became the leaders that we so admired as underclassmen. We rose to each occasion and left our legacy in our last performances on stage, our last goals, our last baskets, our last sprints. Walks through Georgetown, Starbucks or Saxby's runs, the ride on the Gold/White trolley, daily prayer, Kairos--we reveled in these beloved traditions even as senioritis intensified. With every last, graduation inched closer and closer.

And here we are, at our last Mass together--a Mass not unlike that first Welcome Mass four years ago. Yet since that first Mass, we've experienced loss. We've wrestled with personal struggles that we could not even fathom in eighth grade. We've doubted ourselves. We've questioned our faith. But for every obstacle we faced, we reached countless milestones. We needed to stumble to know we could reach a little farther. We've tested our limits and surpassed them.


We've found the magic beyond our comfort zones. Now, on the brink of the past and the future, do we dare to turn the page?


Arundhati Roy's words from her book The Cost of Living challenge us "To love. To be loved. [...] To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget."

Tomorrow you embark on a new chapter of your life. Flip back to remember your Visitation Journey from time to time, but embrace every new day as the opportunity to live out your story. St. Francis de Sales, our Salesian mentor, once said, "Those who have made great progress will constantly press ahead, never for a moment thinking that they have reached their goal." We've made incredible progress during our time at Visitation, and now we continue to strive to achieve our purpose, being who we are and being that well. Prepare to turn the page. This is not the end--the rest is just unwritten.

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