It’s the time of year when graduation ceremonies are in full swing, from preschool to college and everything in between. In fact, May 24th is the date I graduated from high school (Owensboro Catholic High School…go ACES!!!!), twenty-five years ago. WOW! Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday I was hanging out with my friends at OCHS, without a care in the world, except for planning what we were going to do on the weekend. Little did I know, that deep within me, was the stirring of a call to religious life…a call that began with small acts of service throughout my school years.
As a teacher, my philosophy is that students need to be educated in reading, writing, and arithmetic…or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by today’s standards…but also about empathy and altruism. I always tried to impress upon my kids in the classroom to make the world a better place than they found it. Instead of complaining, which is very easy for any of us to fall into, how about going out to volunteer with schools, churches, or organizations in our community. Even easier, smile at the people you encounter, allow someone to go ahead of you in a checkout line at the grocery, hold a door open for someone…random acts of kindness don’t cost anything yet their value is priceless.
A few weekends ago, I attended mass at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, KY. It happened to be the church service to honor those parishioners graduating from local high schools. I always find it exciting to watch these young people who are heading out to set the world ablaze. Even though it was not played during mass, Pomp and Circumstance started playing in my head…the tune itself gives me the feeling that great things are on the way. In his homily, Fr. Jerry Riney spoke directly to the graduates. I know it was during mass, but I didn’t have a pen and paper so I reached for my phone to type a quote from his words. He said, “seek and learn to serve and you will find happiness.” Fr. Jerry did not say get “this degree” or make “this much money” to find happiness. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a prestigious degree or making money…but if we think that is what is going to make us happy we will probably spend a lifetime searching.
Whatever vocation you choose, make it a vocation of happiness and joy. Be a joyful spouse and parent, be a joyful single person, be a joyful priest or deacon, be a joyful religious sister or brother. BE JOYFUL! I end with those words, again, from Fr. Jerry, “seek and learn to serve and you will find happiness!”