I would like to share a few thoughts that I expressed to the members of the senior class at Commencement Exercises on June 3, 2018.
Members of the Class of 2018:
Words matter. What we say, write, email, text, IM, tweet – it all has an impact. In Pope Francis’ message for World Communications Day 2018, he said:
“Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion. . . Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
Where there is shouting, let us practice listening.
Where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony.
Where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity.
Where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity.
Where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety.
Where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions.
Where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust.
Where there is hostility, let us bring respect.
Where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.”
Our country and our world seems so divided at times over a variety of issues, and it is only through empathetic communication that we can help reconcile and resolve our differences.
What a wonderful day to be graduating, because in the Catholic Church, we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ!
St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (12:12-13): “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
Jesus is the “new covenant“, replacing the covenants of the Old Testament between God and the Israelites, which were often broken by the Israelites, and had to be renewed again and again. The covenant of the New Testament is one of love; it is forever renewed through God’s mercy; and it is for everyone. It was created by Jesus who gave his very life as a sacrifice for us all.
You may never feel as connected to one another and to a community of students, teachers and parents as you do right now, graduates of the Class of 2018, so recall these feelings of friendship, love, and common experience as you move into new communities and new relationships.
The vision of one person, Norbert of Xanten, nearly 900 years ago, shared his gifts of preaching and reconciling, and today his communities are still making an impact on people all over the world, including here, at Archmere.
Two teachers, who have been here each for 30 years, certainly have emulated Norbert’s spirit, and now they are retiring. I would like to recognize and ask you to join me in thanking Mr. William Mulhearn and Mrs. Rosalba Bellen.
And so, my prayer for you as leave Archmere is to use your talents to speak well, to build community, to repair relationships, to make good and lasting “covenants,” to recognize that, in the end, we are all one body – connected. Expand your “nets of friendship,” and perhaps the love and empathy you share will exponentially spread to others, and, day by day, change our world for the better.