As we gather today to honor past memories and look to the future, I can’t help but think of William Butler Yeats’ famous poem Among School Children which reads:
I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and history,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way—the children’s eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man.
I hope that as you entered the portry doors this morning you, like the old, man were smiling as you were transported back to your time as a student either here or at City House. For it was within these walls that you learned to cipher and sing, study reading books and histories and to cut and sew, but most importantly it was within these walls that your grew into the person you are today. And so it is only proper that we pause this morning within the walls of your alma mater to give thanks to God for the gift of your Sacred Heart education.
If your Sacred Heart education has lived up to the mission of City House and Villa Duchesne, it was, as the name alma matter suggests, truly your second mother and as a good and caring mother it formed and educated you to leave the walls of this castle to go back into the world as persons of conviction, persons filled with the Joy of the Gospel. It formed you to be Eucharistic people who are using your God give talents to build His Kingdom.
It was at Villa Duchesne or City House that the seeds of God’s love and God’s way of living were sewn and the degree to which those seeds have grown into the principles by which you live your life now is the degree to which City House of Villa Duchesne has been a successful alma mater, a successful nurturing mother.
Friends, we have come here this morning to your alma mater, your loving mother, to be somewhat transfigured and transformed by reliving the memories these walls hold as secrets and to renew the important friendships your formed here. Yet in a couple of hours we are going to leave and go back to the reality of our lives. The problems we are facing with our families, at work, and in our community will still be waiting for us. We are no longer students within these walls, we are no longer preparing for what God has called us to in our lives; we are living it. We no longer have those great teachers and role models who also called this castle home to show us how to apply the Gospel Values into the practicalities of everyday life and so we must pause, as we should at a minimum every Sunday and gather around this altar to be nourished by our Lord Himself in the Eucharist.
We gather this morning to once again experience the mystery of your Sacred Heart education so that we can go back to our lives as devoted wives, parents, and grandparents, doing precisely what this place prepared you to do for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more years ago; namely to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, to work for justice, peace and reconciliation after the example of Christ. We have come here to say to God, “I am a Daughter of the Sacred Heart, ready and willing to do what You want me to do, and to be the person You continue to call me to be.”