Ursuline Seniors of 2018

     Tonight, as we celebrate the graduation of these young women from Ursuline which has formed women to become confident young woman who are prepared for living and leading in a diverse world since 1848 it only seems appropriate that we begin by saying congratulations firstly to the class of 2018 but also to the parents, as well as the faculty, staff, administration, and benefactors whose dedication and selfless sacrifice has made this day possible. In a special way, I want to also thank the class of 2018 for inviting me to be here with you tonight. I am greatly humbled and honored to be here with you for this great celebration.

     Having been in school non-stop for the last 27 years, I feel right at home at graduation ceremonies. This spring I graduated with my third master’s degree which means nothing more than the sad fact I have sat through too many graduation celebrations. Following those examples, I am supposed to tell you that all of your hard work will pay off and all of your dreams will come true. However, I will not say that, because if that were really true I wouldn’t be here with you tonight. I’d be down at Busch Stadium batting cleanup for the Cardinals. While our dreams may seem exciting I am truly grateful that all my dreams did not come true. In fact, I think we spend so much time asking ourselves what we want to do with our lives that we fail to realize our true fulfillment only comes when we discover what God wants us to do with our lives.

     Looking out at our graduates I am reminded of my own high school graduation 11 years ago when I was preparing to enter the seminary with a plan to leave after two years. Yes, you heard that right, I was planning my exit from the seminary before ever starting. The truth is I never wanted to be a priest, but I couldn’t get the idea of being a priest out of my head, so I made a deal with God that I would give him two years in the seminary and then He would make all of my dreams come true. Yet, once I entered the seminary and began spending serious time in a prayer my heart began to recognize how much God loved me and then it all began to click. I recognized that the God who created me, knows me better than I know myself and He created me for a purpose. Since God loves me, He always wants what is best for me and so ultimately, I would only find that fulfillment by following His path for me. Friends, don’t waste your time asking what you want to be, rather ask who did God create you to be.

     When we recognize that God has a plan for our lives, we begin to see that our education is about something far greater than ourselves. The formation you received here at Ursuline was a gift given to you, which is intended to be used for the good of others. In fact, I dare say that the measure of the success of your education is the measure to which you share it with the people who never had the privilege of a Ursuline education. For your education enables you to serve others and in so doing you truly own your Ursuline education.

     When we look at the Gospels we see that Jesus lived His life to give it away. In fact, while all of us come into this world to live, Jesus was the one person who came into this world to die. To be a Christian, a true follower of Jesus, we must hand over our lives through service to others. For “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”[1] So then, “the purpose of our time in college is to love the Lord more deeply and to develop the skills to serve Him more effectively.”[2] The purpose of college is to brighten our lamp, so it can shine before others.[3]

     In the coming years, God will provide you with the opportunity to grow into the person He has created you to be. But in doing so you can never lose sight of where you came from what you learned here at Ursuline and those who have sacrificed so much to lead you to this point in your life. The next few years will afford you with the opportunity to reach further than you ever have before and will set the course of your lives. From this point on, in everything you do, it will be up to you to decide how you are going to live.

     Wherever life takes you, never forget that God loves you unconditionally. No matter what we do or how far we stray He offers us His love, if only we are willing to accept it. So never be afraid to turn back to God, to our Catholic faith and to your Ursuline family to help you reset when you find yourself following your own dream instead of God’s dream for you.

      So today, I won’t tell you the lie that all of your dreams will come true, but rather I’m here to remind you that God has an infinitely better plan for you. So, don’t chase your dreams, but rather go out and discover God’s dream for you and when you discover them, live them to the fullest for others.

[1] Mt 16:25

[2] Aurora Griffin. How I Stayed Catholic At Harvard. San Francisco: Ignatius Press (2016).

[3] Mt 5:16

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