Congratulations on your 8th grade graduation! May God bless you as you journey from the place many of you have called home for the past 9 years. Know that despite your departure, you are a part of a larger family of Incarnation Irish whose bonds cannot be broken by any distance or time.
I cannot believe it has been two years since we have been together and that it was nine years ago that I became your principal as ICS kindergarteners. So much...so much has changed since then, the most important being your maturation, growth, and development into the people that God created you to be. Know that this formation is permanent, not in the sense that it is now completed, but rather that it is ongoing. Never stop never stopping.
I have prayed for you every day and will continue to do so. You are forever in my heart. Please let me know if I can ever help or support you in any way. I am honored to have been a part of your lives and to have you as a part of mine.
In this spirit, I offer to you some thoughts and words. I hope and pray that they may provide some inspiration, wisdom, and if nothing else, a short shot of nostalgia:
The closing prayer at mass is “Go forth, the Mass is ended”, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”, or simply, “Go in peace.” All of these variations derive from the Latin, Ite missa est, which means, “Go, you have been sent.”
Go, ICS Class of 2019. You have been sent. Over the course of your time at ICS, the school, its teachers, coaches, administrators and staff, alongside of our Church and your parents and families have prepared you to be the best versions of yourselves. There is still work to be done and that is true for all of us, but go into the next steps of your lives and be who God created you to be.
Witness to others about the life in Christ that you have because of your time at Incarnation. Do not shy away from being ready to give people who ask an explanation for the hope you have in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15). Boldly profess and proclaim your faith in Christ, not in a way that divides. Rather, use your faith and the power of the Gospel in the same way that Christ did: to unite, to heal, to love.
Hold fast when your faith will be tested, because it will undoubtedly be put to the test. Whether this happens sooner or later, your discipleship will be questioned, mocked and even persecuted. Embrace these trials. It is only through extreme heat and pressure that we have diamonds.
In these moments, lean on each other. The gift of community is something that is truly divinely scripted. Our God is Himself relational; therefore, all relationships that are rightly ordered are pathways to holiness. Turn to your parents, teachers, coaches, priests and others who want nothing more than for you to find fullness in life. Believe that we are always better together.
Dive into the Good Book. Make a daily habit of breaking open God’s revelatory Words to us. We have the Words of eternal life. Never forget that the messages contained within the Bible are intended for you, right now, and that Jesus seeks after your heart through its pages.
Return to the Sacraments. Jesus gives us His life in profound ways through the Eucharist and Reconciliation. There is no limit to your reception or to the immense good that your participation can have on both you and our world. Frequent both often. Because of your Baptism you have been set aside for a special purpose - a mission - for which only you can be sent and only you can accomplish. God has claimed you as His own. You have been built for holiness, made for greatness and destined for sainthood. Your Confirmation galvanized these graces and supercharged your spirits for your mission. Stir up the charism of your Confirmation saint and invoke his/her name in your prayers. You have been called, by name, to do great things. Do them.
Fail and grow comfortable with struggle. Do not endure grit for the sake of being gritty, but persevere through the challenges that life will hurl at you for the sake of His Kingdom. Struggle is a sign of growth, whether it be mental, physical or spiritual. Seek out ways to constantly improve and search for opportunities that will be beyond your abilities. Jesus is not found on, nor has he called you to, the safeties of shore. Get into your boats and cast out into the deep. Abandon even your vessels to find the One who knows you even better than you know yourself. In doing so, He will introduce you to your life in Him, a life of abundance, of purpose, of fulfillment. He will give you your mission.
Through it all, continue to make God known, loved and served in all that you think, say and do. Believe that you have no greater purpose than this and that Christ wants nothing more for you than to come to fullness of life in Him. In doing so, may you bring that fullness to a world so desperately in need of it.
Go, ICS Class of 2019, and make Christ incarnate in our world through the gift of your lives. May others see the Incarnation of Christ through your witness to His love, power, majesty and glory.
Go, ICS Class of 2019, you have been sent.
Congratulations, good luck, God bless, and GO IRISH!