Instead, Kendrick experienced a much more profound kind of graduation, Rodriguez said.
"Kendrick graduated not for an academic degree, but he graduated in humanity and in Christian life," he said.
At the end of life, everyone will be examined not on their academic knowledge or worldly success, the bishop noted, but on how well they loved.
"Kendrick passed this test with honors," he said. "He accomplished in a short time a great career in honorableness, love and holiness. As Scripture says, the greatness of a man 'cannot be measured in terms of years.'"
Even though Kendrick was a good person and is loved and cared for by the Lord, his death still causes "unbearable" pain, especially for his family, Rodriguez said.
The bishop encouraged John and Maria, the parents of Kendrick, to hold fast to the Gospel of John 6:40: "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day."
That passage, Rodriguez said, contains two promises for Kendrick: that he is enjoying eternal life in heaven, and that he will be raised with Jesus on the last day.
"Dream with that moment, when you will see Kendrick right in front of you, radiant, smiling and coming to you for a big hug," he said.
He then encouraged everyone in attendance to follow the example of Kendrick's faith and love, and thanked John and Maria for their son.
"John and Maria, Kendrick, your son, is a gift for all of us. And we all must commit to keep his legacy and to praise God for the gift of Kendrick's years among us."
"God loves your child. Now, he is with him. And he left, keeping you in his heart."
(Story continues below)
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Mary Farrow worked as a staff writer for Catholic News Agency until 2020. She has a degree in journalism and English education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.