Cardinal Gibbons High School
May 25, 2012
In recent weeks, the words of some special people have touched my heart and helped me to formulate the messages I wish to leave with you, dear graduates, at this momentous occasion and joyful time in your life.
Recently, my aunt died peacefully. Her son shared with my family her final words to her six children when one of them asked her, “Mom, is there anything we should do for you?” She simply said, “Yes, please always remember the important lessons and values I tried my best to teach you. That is all I ask of you. In that way you will truly honor me.”
Dear graduates, throughout the years you have often spoken about your love for and pride in Cardinal Gibbons High School. With you, I express profound thanks to your parents whose sacrifices have blessed you with a strong Catholic Education and formation. I echo those words of thanks to the dedicated administration, faculty and staff. And I imagine that all they really ask of you in return (to paraphrase the words of my aunt) is to realize that you honor them and this school by remembering the important lessons and values you have been taught here at Cardinal Gibbons High School.
At the heart of those lessons is the reality that your most important priority in life must be the nurturing of your faith and your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. For as our Holy Father Pope Benedict recently said to your peers, “If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in faith, you will encounter the source of true happiness and joy...do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.”
Yet, as we know, “remembering” is not enough. Our Faith must be put into action.
Recently, we buried one of our fine Diocesan priests, Fr. Al Dash, who spent most of his Priesthood in service to young adults, especially in the work of Catholic Campus Ministry. I visited him on the night before he died and had the great privilege of thanking him on behalf of all in the Diocese of Raleigh for his generous and faithful priestly service. He held my hand and simply kept repeating these words, “I tried. I tried.”
Dear graduates, as you go forth from the nurturing environment of CGHS, you will have “to try,” and try even a bit harder, to bring the lessons you have learned here to the world.
What will that demand? It will mean that you practice your faith: through your participation at Mass each weekend; the frequent celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation; the cultivation of personal prayer; and the offering of your generous service to the Church and community, especially in your outreach to those in most need. I strongly suggest to all those going forth to colleges and universities that you immediately get involved with Catholic Campus Ministry. It will greatly assist you in keeping your faith alive and your relationship with Christ stronger than ever.
What else will be required? You will have to witness on behalf of your faith and the Truth of the Gospel. You will have to stand up for the sacredness of all human life and the respect owed to all persons as created in the image and likeness of God. You will have to reject the temptations that seek to keep you from living honorably, justly and chastely. You will have to resist any school of thought that states higher learning must exclude the exercise of a well-informed conscience and the practice of religious freedom and liberty.
Will it always be easy? No. Always possible? Yes! Why? Because of the promise given to you in today’s Readings and the ones we will celebrate in a special way on Pentecost this weekend: The Spirit of the Lord is upon you: the Spirit that gives you courage, grace and strength.
Last year, I told the graduates that as they pack for their next adventure in life to take some essential tools with them: a crucifix, their Bible and a rosary. I want to add to the list: Also bring with you your memory (remembering all that your parents and this school have tried their best to teach you) and a renewed commitment to try, to try even harder each day to be the person God calls you to be and a faithful witness of Jesus Christ.
So, dear graduates, as you go forth: “Do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ—whose Spirit is upon you and who will be with you all the days of your life!”