By Bishop Joseph M. Siegel
Special to The Message
Dear Members of the Class of 2022,
Congratulations on your high school graduation!
I imagine it hard to believe that four years have passed since you first stepped into your high schools as freshmen. Now, you are young adults on the verge of beginning your college studies, service in the military or your careers in the work world.
Over the last few weeks, you have probably been looking back over the past years and remembering some of those events that marked your time here at your high schools. Certainly, the dramatic events of 2020 and 2021 – especially dealing with the COVID pandemic and all that it entailed for your families, our communities and your life as students – have certainly made lasting impressions on you. All these events, as well as the people who have walked with you on this journey of high school, have helped to form you into the people you are today as you graduate. Yet, through the whirlwind of life these past four years, the Lord Jesus was always with you – guiding you, celebrating with you the happy times and helping you through the tough times.
Just as learning doesn’t stop with high school graduation, neither does your personal and spiritual formation. As one chapter of your life closes, another will begin. You will find new challenges and find yourself having to make some big decisions, some of which could well affect the rest of your lives. I hope that, as you engage in your future, you will draw on what you have learned at your high schools. Over these years, you have been taught not only the usual academic subjects, but especially what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ in today’s world. This includes acting in a moral and ethical way, and being a person of integrity, honesty and kindness.
The Lord now sends you as His missionary disciples, empowered by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, to live and share your faith in your daily lives. As you fulfill your Christian vocation, Jesus will always be with you to guide and protect you. To know His grace and help, it is vital that you stay close to Him by participating in Mass each Sunday and holy day, praying each day, getting involved in campus ministry, chaplaincy programs or parish young adult activities – seeking to always know the Lord more profoundly.
As you face moments of decision, your parents and family will be there to help and support you. Your school family, and the teachers and staff, will continue to be sources of encouragement and guidance. And of course, the Church will continue to be your family of faith. I hope you will stay involved, whether as liturgical ministers, in Bible studies or retreats, and/or in social and service opportunities. Your parish priests, too, will always be ready to assist you in any way they can.
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, Patroness of our diocese, may the Lord Jesus, who has brought you through these past four years to this graduation celebration, continue to bestow on you every grace and good gift you will need to live a full and meaningful Christian life as His disciples in the world.
May God bless you all!