Tuesday, June 9, 2015

St Francis 2015 Graduation

2015 St Francis Catholic School Graduates - Left to right: Hannah Slye, Marie Mosely, Emily McLean, Stella Hyde, Nicole Gallivan, John Fawcett, Steven Dominguez
7 students graduated yesterday from St Francis Catholic school. These are the last of thousands of students who have graduated from our school since 1936, and I offer to you today the message and homily I shared with them and their parents and teachers during Mass yesterday.

It is a true honor today leading this Mass on the occasion of your Graduation from St Francis. Thousands of students have graduated over the years since 1936. Every time I ask a congregation in church by show of hands how many attended St Francis, there is always a nice group of proud alumni who have great recollections of the years spent in our school. I also know that many of you, with your siblings, have spent 8, 10, even 15 years in our school. But remember that your Graduation today is not the end of the road, but rather a transition stage. As if you’re on a train, and today you’re changing track,  the train itself, maybe even your luggage. Your train will now pick up speed - your studies will be harder and more demanding in High School. And the competition will become more intense.

Let me tell you secret that may shock you - I never graduated, never experienced a graduation ceremony. In Malta, we just study, work hard, get good grades of course and receive a diploma only at the University or College level. In my case it was at my ordination, 38 years ago (when your own parents were toddlers themselves) - the ordination for me was equivalent to my Graduation. And from then on, it was and still is, non-stop work. My diploma is not hanging on wall, framed and turning yellow or brown by now, but is engraved in my heart, molded in my mind, and is evident by what I do with my hands, my feet, my speech, my homilies, talks, my counseling people, visits to hospitals, talking to students and young people, helping couples keep their marriage together. And so much more. And so your success in life will be shown by what you can accomplish after you finish your schooling, and start working, in whatever field you decide to take on.

Thank God always for your health, your talents, your potential, and never take him for granted. Never think that you don’t need God in your life. I’ve seen too many young people go down in the valley of destruction when they felt they could do it by themselves, and then they reached out to God, and changed their lives. You will certainly have many distractions and temptations facing you in HS and College. But persevere and strive for the best. Even the names of your future High Schools can give you the impression of having reached a milestone, but it’s long way ahead. You can only reach the summit of Summit when your grades are close to 4.0. You can get a good look from a Mountain View when the view is clear and sharp and there are no distractions or temptations hindering your focus. You can enjoy being at Bend High and feel you’ve reached the highest peak of your life - but remember that just as you see things up high, you can still come down with a big thump. You can also end up at Trinity up the road and you will be successful as long as you can keep God and Jesus in your life, and let the Holy Spirit inspire every step you take.

In the name of your parents, your teachers and those who have admired you all along, I want to thank you for the inspiration you have been to so many. And even though I’ve been here for less than 2 years, some of you have been an inspiration to me personally.
Stella Hyde – I admire your dedication to your studies, reflected in the cross-county skiing you and your family love so much. You have the drive to reach for higher goals, and your patience, your perseverance, and your utmost dedication to make your dreams come true is an inspiration to me personally.
Steven Dominguez – I will always remember your portrayal of Jesus at the Living Stations, and I thank your family who participate in our Spanish Mass, especially with the music.
Emily McLean – of course you always impressed me by your voice, but especially in being courageous enough to face a large crowd and lead the singing as a Cantor when you were still in 7th grade. Remember that your voice is a gift – use it profitably to inspire other people and our congregation here every Sunday.
Hannah Slye – if you follow your mom’s career, you will be a fine nurse, but please don’t try to become a surgeon, because if you handle patients as you handled that poor frog last week, we’re all in big trouble. The good thing was that he was already dead. And keep that smile which is a special gift that you can share with everyone else.
Marie Mosely – your gentle nature is also an inspiration to me, especially how close you are to your family, and a role-mother to your younger siblings.
Nicole Gallivan – I admire your dedication to your studies, and only last weekend I witnessed personally the discipline in focusing on your studies, especially when all your friends were enjoying the trampoline after your brother’s Confirmation. Studying Latin on a Sunday evening when your siblings and friends were having fun shows character, determination, discipline and a strong motivation to not let extra-curricular activities interfere with your studies.
John Fawcett – the first time I met you (or better yet, heard you play,) I was mesmerized. I had just arrived at St Francis and it was during the Central Oregon Symphony Concert when this young boy came on stage to place Edoard Lalo’s ‘Symphonie Espanol.’ When he finished I looked at the program and found out that this was one of our boys. Ever since I have admired you, followed your career, heard you leading a string quartet, in orchestras, and as a soloist, frequently at some of my weddings. Remember your roots when you play at Carnegie Hall.

A Time Magazine article a few years ago interviewed the Harvard applicants at the prestigious Ivy College, and were asked which were their two priorities - the answer out of 99% was power and money. They may be important for your success in life, but they are not everything. Remember the values that brought you here - and your parents can tell you about sacrifice, love, determination, commitment, loyalty. Remember that your parents and grandparents and teachers survived without the Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, Itunes, but they emphasized other values that are irreplaceable and indestructible, the I love you, I care for you, I miss you, I respect you and I forgive you.

Remember and be proud of the values that were given to you since the time you were born, the values of patience, tolerance, forgiveness, appreciation, respect and the one that you probably didn’t like, but the one that gave you identity and character, that is the value of discipline. Don’t be embarrassed to say that you are Catholic. Contrary to what many young people think, people will not make fun of you if you tell them you go to Church every Sunday. They will admire you, and we will be proud of you. Better yet, bring a friend along, as I see many College students do when they visit their families. This is the one thing that makes me so proud of them.

Remember the Kindergarten teachers as well as your Middle School teachers. Sometimes we forget those who really put a strong foundation, even in our younger grades. Remember older siblings or that baby-sitter who spent hours watching you fall asleep, changed hundreds of messy diapers, and helped you even with school work, your homework and many other projects. Remember that coach who taught you how to swing a bat, throw a football, or learn to swim, snow ski and bicycle.

Remember that drama, health and music teacher, your mentors and counselors who spent hours trying to figure out what may be troubling you, only to find out that it was a sweetheart who broke your heart because they didn’t return a phone-call. Remember the priests and teachers who taught you here at the Religious Ed program over the years. Remember especially your parents who must have sacrificed so much for your upbringing, your education and your overall well being. You would not be here if it weren’t for them and their love for you. We won’t say Good Bye today, but So Long, and until we meet again. Congratulations. (Father Julian)

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