From Father Gabriel Zeis, T.O.R., Vicar for Catholic EducationHow prepared is a graduate from a Catholic High School in 2018? Having reflected upon this most recently while preparing a Baccalaureate Mass homily and having recently attended Princeton University’s Baccalaureate celebration, I must say, extremely well prepared.
In preparing for my most recent Baccalaureate homily, I asked myself the question, “What is it that our students have been given, and we hope thoroughly accepted, that is not offered in other secular educational venues?” The answer is always the same: Jesus Christ is the center of our Catholic educational program; Jesus is its heart, and Jesus is its enlightenment, knowledge and saving grace of the world that enables our students to truly make a difference.
On June 3, at Princeton University’s Baccalaureate celebration, speaker Eduardo Bhatia, minority leader and former president of the Senate of Puerto Rico, challenged the graduating class of 2018 to live honorably and with integrity, especially as they go forth into a life of service. He told them that they would only make a difference in the world if they lived up to a personal code of honor and the integrity that followed in its wake. How true this is! His words were met with great applause, the affirmation of young men and women ready to make a difference and seeking, truly seeking, a way to do just that.
But as I sat and listened to his words and the exhilaration they caused in the crowd, I could not help but think, “What will sustain these highly intelligent and well-prepared young men and women for that challenging reality of entering the world?”
Truly they are well-educated and have been challenged to think critically. They have been reared on science and the humanities. They have received a classical education that has taught them ethics and the ability to be self-reflective and engaged civically. But as I sat there, I prayed, “Lord let them know you; let them seek you and find in you the strength they will need to truly be honorable and to find the integrity of your life working in and through them. Only by this will they truly make a difference.”
I believe that my prayer was heartfelt, and as I have prayed for all the graduates of our Catholic schools, I add one more dimension to this prayer: I pray in thanksgiving for their existence, for they truly are the places that teach our students how to know Jesus, how to meet him in their halls and classrooms, how to be Church – the Body and Blood of Christ that in and through them will make a lasting difference in our world.
Class of 2018, know Christ and live Christ always!