Pastors Message to Graduates

13 Jun 2013 by SHRCChurch, No Comments »

Dear Graduates,

Please excuse my absence this evening. I am recovering from a severe infection and my doctor has recommended a lengthy period of rest.

I wish to extend to all of you my sincere congratulations on the evening of your graduation exercises. As Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, I am justly proud of your many accomplishments and am grateful for your fine witness to the Christian values of our faith, which, after all, is the very reason why our school was established in the first place. Having successfully completed your course of studies, you are now prepared for even greater challenges ahead. I pray that the Holy Spirit, source of all wisdom, continues to guide and enlighten you as you continue on your journey throughout life. Middle School now awaits you!

Let me begin my sermon with a personal memory of some significance.

In the long ago days of my youth, I was a close friend of a boy from my neighborhood in Albany, who was an exceptional student. He could always be counted on to graduate near or at the top of his class every June. He was an “A” student.

Upon graduation from High School, he enrolled at Siena, where he studied for five years, four years as an undergraduate and one year as a graduate student. Immediately following his years of study at Siena, he spent the next several years studying law at Columbia University Law School and Yale Law School.  His intention was to be admitted to the New York State Bar.  He wanted to be a lawyer.

Even after completing his studies at Law school, he sought more schooling. He simply could not get enough education. He then earned an advanced degree in law. Not surprisingly, he amassed a large debt to the federal government.

One day I asked a close friend of mine, a Catholic priest, why anyone would choose the life of a professional student. Knowing well the young man in question, he replied, “That’s easy, books do not talk back to you; people do. You can always hide behind books; it is a lot more difficult avoiding workers in a workplace.

It seems to me that a Catholic School education is pointless if it fails to provide young students with the necessary social skills to enter into personal contact with others. Our Blessed Lord Jesus did not shun contact with others, even those who were considered untouchable, such as lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes. He did not bury himself in sacred scrolls of God’s inspired Word. He engaged the people and they responded with great affection.

Dear graduates, how easy it is to bury ourselves in all those popular new gadgets. How much of our time is spent using our smart phones, I pads and BlackBerry’s. And what about Facebook, twitter and texting… Yesterday, a nurse at Dana Farber Institute in Boston spoke to me of a boy she had seen alone with his father in a local park. The youngster seemed sad because his father, obviously distracted by the business of texting someone, was ignoring him.

We need to be constantly aware that we are a family, a community of faith and the Body of Christ. We bond with people, not with books or all the other marvels of American technology.

In our modern era, more and more people have chosen to make religion a private affair, making the sacramental life of the parish unimportant. Who needs a community when you can worship “on-line” and make yourself the center of attention?

Boys and girls, stay close to your parish community. It will have a profoundly humanizing and comforting effect upon you. You will find security in a culture increasingly hostile to the Christian values we hold so dear. You will experience joy and warmth, peace and love.

In closing, I wish to speak to the parents of our graduates. I share in your joy this night. All your sacrifices have paid off handsomely for you. Thank you for enrolling your children in our school. May god bless you for saying “yes to the little school with the big heart.”       Father Yanas

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