One of the traditional rites of passage in our society is high school graduation. All schools, from small town to big city, take time at the end of the school year to recognize the culmination of the kindergarten to grade 12 educational journey for students, their families, and the wider community. In our Catholic schools, we understand these ceremonies as an opportunity to reflect our Catholic identity and to contribute to a shared spirituality of communion. Our students have experienced the richness of our faith in many ways through their time in our schools, from classroom prayers and liturgies to service projects and retreats. In Holy Spirit Catholic schools, each of our graduating classes also mark this moment with a Mass as they are sent forth on their next steps.
In the past three years, schools across the province have had to shift these ceremonies through many different modes, from online delivery to drive-through graduations, hybrid versions and outdoor events, as they sought to comply with the regulations prevailing at that time. While these celebrations were meaningful, personal and reflected the best efforts of each school staff, one of the blessings of this spring has been the ability to gather together again.
In the third year of our Holy Spirit Catholic Schools three year Faith Plan, Making our Mark, Journey of an Intentional Disciple, our key scripture to focus on has been from Romans 12: “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”
This has been a most fitting verse for us this spring, as our gatherings in each of our communities have powerfully reaffirmed the deep human need that we have for spiritual connection with one another, and how vital it is for us to be together as we celebrate. While we know that we are one body in Christ whether we are gathered in one place or not, graduations this spring have reinforced the scale and scope of our faith community, and how we belong to one another in that community. Our physical presence with one another shows us that even as we proceed along our educational and faith journeys individually, we are never detached from the one body in Christ.
As I reflect upon this year’s graduation class, I am again reminded of God’s providence for us in all of the experiences of our lives. The three year journey that we in Holy Spirit have experienced in our faith plan, and the three year high school journey that this graduating class has experienced, were marked indelibly by the Covid pandemic. However, as a collective group, we are not marked solely by the pandemic. We might think instead of the wide range of educational experiences that students have had to prepare them to graduate, and the warmth of the interactions between staff and students as they engaged in the learning process. We might think of the ways in which our schools and communities have supported each other, and our shared joy in recognizing our graduates. We might choose to see the recent past as an opportunity to focus on and develop the virtues of fortitude, patience, and constancy. We might remind ourselves that one of the great things about a high school graduation is, that as an end and a beginning, it is a time filled with hope. And, in our Catholic schools, we know that hope is not solely our hopes for something, but a hope in Christ and in God’s promises and plans for us.
As we pray this month for our graduates, let us pray that their hope be abundant and expansive, that they continue to deepen their faith, and that they witness in their words and actions the unity we share in the body of Christ.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers