Congratulations on your graduation from Incarnation Catholic School! Some of you started at ICS ten years ago as students in our PreK-4 program. Your first year at ICS coincided with my first year ever as a principal and my first year at ICS.
So much has changed in the past three months, let alone the past three years since I served as your principal, or even the past ten since some of us entered ICS together for the first time.
I know that the end of your time at ICS was not how you would have written it. No one would have written this part of the narrative of the world. The stories of our lives often get written by authors other than ourselves. Some of you have probably already encountered this reality, and endured and overcome it multiple times over the course of your lives. For others, this pandemic may have been the first time that you experienced a loss of control over how your story goes. Undoubtedly and unfortunately, it will not be the last time. I do hope and pray, however, that it is by far the worst.
As sure as I am that you will face other hardship in life, I am equally sure that you responded to this situation and continue to face it with the grit, determination, grace and solidarity that are hallmarks of Incarnation.
Before I started as principal in July of 2010, I surveyed the teachers, families and some of the students about the best part of ICS. Almost unanimously, the community described ICS as a family. Throughout my time as your principal, this theme of family anchored and inspired my efforts. From establishing Households to hosting morning gatherings, First Friday Morning Assemblies, Mission:Mass sessions and grade level retreats, enhancing the ICS family fueled my leadership. Throughout my seven years, the ICS family demonstrated over and over for me that together is better.
As you celebrate your graduation, albeit in an unexpected way, I hope that this message resonates with you and serves as your anchor as you look ahead to an uncertain future.
Together is better.
We were created in the image and likeness of a Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - and therefore we were built for relationships.
Together is better because there is strength in numbers. I'm sure the distance caused by the pandemic merely served as a way to bring you closer together as a class, as a school, and as an Incarnation community. Linking arms with others, even if just in virtual ways, can allow you to walk toward any obstacle with the bold confidence that you can and will conquer it. A lion will devour a lone individual walking toward it. Link arms with two others and that same beast will run away.
Together is better.
Together is better because when two or more are gathered in Christ's name, even on a computer screen, He is there in our midst (Matthew 18:20). When you join together with others in the name of Christ, you awaken and stoke into flame the Holy Spirit that always courses through your veins. The synergistic effect of a group of people committed to proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ can echo throughout the centuries. It can and indeed is the only thing that has ever changed the world.
Together is better.
In closing, I leave you with a paraphrased form of the charge issued to members of the class of 2020 by the President of the University of Notre Dame, Fr. John Jenkins, at Notre Dame's virtual graduation this past weekend:
My charge to you is simply this: Make this story, the story you may not have intended to write, a tale of resilience and hope, of friendship and solidarity, and of the kind of courage and persistence that conquers despair and disappointment. Make it, too, a story of generosity and goodness. Whatever your hardships, someone else is suffering much more. Be a sister or brother to them. In your family life, your professional life, and your spiritual life, every day of your life, never forget that your charge as (an Incarnation Catholic School) graduate is to be a force for good.ICS Class of 2020, congratulations on your graduation!
Now, together, and in the face of whatever else life hurls at you, go be a force for good.
Go and change the world.
Goodbye, good luck, God bless and GO IRISH!