For the Marian High School graduating Class of 2018, greatness and success in life are measured by service of others and the capacity for love.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades began his homily at the school’s baccalaureate Mass on Thursday, May 31, by holding up the Blessed Mother Mary as a beautiful example for young people of a life lived boldly, selflessly and exceptionally. “We heard in the Gospel Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat, in which she proclaimed the greatness of the Lord,” the bishop explained, “She thanked God for the great things that He accomplished in her life. When God touches the hearts of young people, they become capable of doing tremendous things. I see this in so many young people in our diocese … Graduates, I see the wonderful things you are capable of doing with the help of God’s grace.”
The Marian graduates were also encouraged to always keep in mind the final destination of life’s journey, heaven, and to “embrace life as an adventure of love and a pilgrimage of faith.” Although there are many unknowns in this adventure, he said, perhaps especially for those newly graduated, each member of the graduating Class of 2018 can trust that God has given him or her abundant gifts and a capacity for sharing His love with others. “Like Mary, we who have received Jesus in our hearts, and especially in the Eucharist, are called to carry Him with us in our life’s journey, and to bring Him to others.”
The theme of Bishop’s call for the graduates to use their God-given gifts to effect positive change in the world carried through to the school’s commencement exercises on Friday, June 1. The members of the 2018 graduating class were escorted to the stage by representatives of the graduating Class of 1968, the first class to graduate from Marian High School and go out to make a difference in the world. The appearance of these two classes on the stage was representative of the 50 years Marian has faithfully been challenging students to spiritual and moral growth, academic and physical excellence, and social maturity.
The school’s vision of preparing students for lifelong learning while fostering personal integrity and critical thinking, and to empowering students to serve and to lead the Church and the local and global community, is realized in the lives of the students graduates, and alumni alike. Salutatorian Katherine Henry attributed the quality of the friendships and relationships she formed while attending Marian to the rich foundation of faith and service. In her salutatory address, Katherine recalled many of the life lessons the Class of 2018 learned throughout their four years together. “Promise,” Katherine said to her classmates, “that you will continue to embrace every gift you have been given while attending Marian.”
Not many high school students would describe their primary life goal as, “[giving] the best of myself to the world around me, in an effort to transform it into the ‘more human and more fraternal’ world of St. Pope John Paul II’s vision.” For valedictorian Alyssa Grzesiowski, however, it became clear while attending World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, that any other goal would fall short of the call she had received as a young Catholic. In her valedictory address, Alyssa entreated her classmates not to be confined by the molds the world would try to conform them to: “Low expectations are what confine us to mediocrity, likewise, the highest expectations of ourselves elevate us to excellence. So, Class of 2018, challenge yourselves! Fight for your own expectations! Live as though no mold can ever contain you!”
Dr. James Schmiedeler, a Marian graduate and professor at the University of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, credited Marian with laying the foundation for his faith and vocation. He began his address to the graduates saying that if they only remember one thing he said, he hoped it would be that, “Finding and pursuing the intersection of your passion and skills will maximize the impact of what you do with your life.” Schmiedeler shared how he began to find this intersection in his own life during his time at Marian by exploring his interests, passions and talents. “The world needs you to make an impact,” Schmiedeler continued. “Look inside yourself to find your natural talents and develop those first. This takes practice.”
The graduates were then directed to look at the classmates on their right and left and encouraged to affirm the gifts, talents and passions they see in each of them. “Help each other find that intersection, so you can make an impact,” Schmiedeler said.
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