Posts Tagged ‘Wyoming Catholic College’

Mother’s Day; Good Shepherd Sunday, Wyoming Catholic College

This Sunday, as with so many Sunday’s in Spring, there are many moments calling for reflection.  First and foremost, a very Happy Mother’s Day to all our moms!  By God’s providential and loving plan, there would be no life without women, and more particularly, without moms.  May all of our moms enjoy a memorable day, and may you know of the love and gratitude of your children.

I just spoke with my mom and the family gathered in Tell City.  They were busy opening the pool for another summer season.  I guarantee you no such events are taking place here in Wyoming today, where we are experiencing one of those Spring Winter Storms, snow, ice, and 20 – 35 mph winds.

Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday.  A good part of the renewal of the Church will require more and more of our people to come to know Jesus in such a familiar way that we will so fall in love with Him that we will follow Him faithfully.  Following of course begs the question: “where?”  Today’s psalm response (Psaom 23) gives the answer: “to verdant pastures, restful waters, right paths, a banquet table, a place of anointing, a place of goodness and kindness, the eternal dwelling of the LORD.”

Good Shepherd Sunday is a time for each of us to listen for the Voice of Jesus, and to be attentive to this voice over all others, which prove to be mere distractions during this pilgrimage of faith.  Today is an invitation to renew our conviction that the LORD is the Good Shepherd Who alone can give us what we long for – communion with Himself.  Each of us is to grow in the wisdom that understands that only in following Jesus can we achieve the destiny of our life.

I pray that more and more families will place Jesus at the center of their lives.  I pray that more and more young people will humbly pray to know the Good Shepherd, that He may lead them to understand and embrace God’s will in their life.  I pray that every parish and family will call discover and empower the vocations our Church so desperately needs of holy married men and women and especially the vocations of religious and priests.  Christ is calling.  Let us listen.

If Christ is calling your son or grandson to become a priest, will you support this call and support your son / grandson to answer this call?  If Christ is calling you to be a priest or religious, will you answer? … will you follow Him?  I pray the answer will always be “Yes.”

Joanna

Wyoming Catholic College graduate, Joanna Mason.

Finally, some brief thoughts about yesterday’s graduation ceremony at Wyoming Catholic College.  In keeping with tradition, this year’s graduating senior chosen to give the senior address was Joanna Mason from Rockville, Maryland.  It is so refreshing to hear a young adult speak so articulately and comfortably of her faith.  Her address clearly reflects that this class of graduates understands that they are to go into the world to carry on the great commission of Jesus Christ, following Him as our Good Shepherd, proclaiming the Good News, and setting the world on fire with the approaching Kingdom of God.  Well done, Joanna and graduates.  You give great hope to this bishop, and to many others.

I could not help but share at the banquet on Friday night my hopes for the future of these graduates.  If I can do what I am doing as a bishop with the education I received, I cannot wait to see what this group of young people will do with the unique education they have received at Wyoming Catholic College.

Applauding Bishop Conley

Bishop James Conley, Dr. Kevin Roberts, Bishop Etienne, Mr. David Kellogg, Dr. Jeremy Holmes.

I also wish to acknowledge what a fine commencement address Bishop James Conley delivered.  He obviously shares an education very similar to what these young graduates of Wyoming Catholic College have received.  Bishop Conley understands what a treasure a liberal arts education is, as well as how that rich gift imbued with faith is the remedy for the poverty of today’s society.

His challenge to the young graduates was to recognize the great treasure of our Christians faith along with our relationship in Christ.  True human satisfaction comes from following Christ and living a life of witness to our faith in him.  The encouraging reality for me is that I believe Wyoming Catholic graduates understand this fundamental truth.

Bishop Conley was also awarded this year’s Sedes Sapientiae Award.  This award is given each year by the Wyoming Catholic College in honor of the College’s Patroness, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The award recognizes a Catholic who has made an outstanding contribution to articulating and defending the Faith in today’s Church.

Congratulations to our Wyoming Catholic graduates of 2014!

(photos courtesy of Joseph Susanka)

Throwing Hats II

Diocese of Cheyenne Challenges HHS Mandate in Federal Court

+ January 30, 2014

Defending Religious Freedom in Court

Dear Friends,

Today, the Diocese of Cheyenne along with five other Catholic institutions filed a lawsuit to challenge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate which requires religious organizations to violate their conscience and the Church’s teaching.  As you may be aware, the mandate requires employers to provide their employees with access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs through their group health plans, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

Joining the diocese in this lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming, are four of our related organizations: Catholic Charities of Wyoming, St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, St. Anthony Tri-Parish School in Casper and John Paul II Catholic School in Gillette.  The Wyoming Catholic College is the fifth plaintiff joining the lawsuit filed today.

Federal law, including the First Amendment to our nation’s Constitution, guarantees religious organizations the right to practice their faith free from government interference.  It is true that the Mandate contains an exemption for so-called “religious employers.”  However, the definition of religious employer is so narrow that many of our institutions that carry out the Gospel mandate to serve the poor, the young, those in distress, do not qualify.  Even though the Diocese of Cheyenne is recognized as a religious employer, four of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit do not qualify, and these organizations provide their employees’ health insurance through the diocesan group health insurance plan.  The Wyoming Catholic College also fails to qualify as a religious employer, but provides health insurance to their employees through a separate plan.

Also, you may be aware that the mandate allows for a so-called ‘accommodation’ to those institutions who claim that providing the objectionable services would require them to violate their conscience and Church teaching.  However, the ‘accommodation’ requires these organizations to complete a certificate which authorizes either their insurance provider or a third-party administrator to provide the drugs and services which we find morally objectionable.  The organizations must also take numerous additional steps to ensure that their employees receive access to the mandated coverage, including identifying and contracting with an insurance provider or third-party administrator willing to provide the mandated coverage and then maintaining a health plan that will serve as the conduit for the delivery of the very products and services to which the organization objects.   Thus, the accommodation in fact provides no relief to the burden of conscience.  It merely makes us complicit in authorizing someone else to do what we are claiming the government has no right to require.  Thus, this lawsuit is about religious freedom.

For Catholics, the practice of faith always requires more than acts of worship.  For us, faith is more than belief in God and freely worshiping the God of our faith.  Faith necessarily entails ‘acts of faith,’ such as feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, education, in short, faith entails the practice of charity.  Jesus’ summation of the commandments teaches that love of God leads to love of neighbor.  St. James also teaches that “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  (James 2:14-26)  The last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel also makes it clear that we will be judged by how well we love our neighbor.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI clearly taught that for the Church, “the exercise of charity is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.  The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.”  (God Is Love, #22)  Because Christ commissioned the Church to ‘go into the world and proclaim the Good News’, (Mark 16:15), religious freedom cannot be restricted to freedom of worship.

In August, as we began to review the implications on our various institutions of the mandate final rule, I was dumbfounded and disheartened to understand why the federal government is making it so difficult for people of faith to exercise their faith for the common good of society.  The message of the mandate is clear; keep your religious beliefs private or face financial penalties.  This is one of the strongest reasons the decision was made by the diocese and the plaintiffs to resist this mandate, even knowing that other similar lawsuits are now making their way through the court system.

The guarantee of religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment and federal law, however, was not meant to protect merely the right to worship, but also the right to contribute through acts of faith to the common good of society.  Up until now, our government has chosen to honor this right.  Never before has the government contested that institutions such as Catholic Charities of Wyoming or St. Joseph’s Children’s Home or St. Anthony Tri-Parish Catholic School are religious.  But the government’s conception of what constitutes the practice of religion is so narrow that it must be contested and ultimately overruled.  Such a law cannot stand.

The Church did not choose this fight.  The federal government has departed from longstanding practice and precedent to change the law; our response merely aims to preserve our constitutional rights to practice our religious beliefs with freedom for the common good.

I ask for your prayers during this time.  I especially ask that each of us, and all members of our faith-family, practice our faith with enthusiasm, joy, and love.  This is the ultimate witness and testimony that assures our government and society they have nothing to fear from the free exercise of religion, and everything to gain, as our practice of faith helps to make the world a better place, and our society strong.

With assurances of prayer, I remain,

In The Heart of Christ,

 

The Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL

Bishop of Cheyenne

Meet The New President…of Wyoming Catholic College

Dr. Kevin Roberts, President of Wyoming Catholic College

 

I arrived in Lander Sunday evening in time for dinner with the Board members and a few other guests of the Wyoming Catholic College.  After dinner, I joined the new President, Dr. Kevin Roberts and his wife, Michelle, for the traditional ice cream social with this year’s incoming freshman class.  It was a great setting to meet the newest members of the College.

The freshmen were fresh off of their three week Outdoor Leadership trip into the backcountry of the Wind River Mountains.  Man, can they put away some ice cream!

Monday morning at 8:30 am found me at Holy Rosary Catholic Church which doubles as the chapel for the Wyoming Catholic College.  I wanted to be present to welcome the former Bishop of Cheyenne and one of the co-founders of the Wyoming Catholic College, Bishop David Ricken.  I also needed to review the 9:00 am ceremony for the inauguration of the 2nd President of the Wyoming Catholic College.

Board President, Mr. David Kellogg; WCC President, Dr. Kevin Roberts; Bishop Etienne, Bishop Ricken, Chaplain, Msgr. Daniel Seiker

The procession of faculty, board members, students and clergy along with the President-elect began at precisely 9:00 am. With everyone in place, the inauguration ceremony began with the singing of the Alma Mater, written by a faculty member, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.

It is hard to fully describe the joy and enthusiasm this Wyoming Catholic College has for the faith, and the genuine fraternity that exists among the many members of the College family.  The enrollment this year stands at 112 students, with an incoming freshman class of 34.  I’m glad the new president has already set a goal of doubling the enrollment over the next ten years.

Dr. Kevin Roberts making his Profession of Faith and Oath of Fideltiy

One of several things I am proud of with regards to this Wyoming Catholic College is its fidelity to the faith and the Church’s teaching.  This Catholic College faculty begins each academic year making an Profession of Faith and an Oath of Fidelity to the local ordinary.  And, in keeping with that tradition, the new President after being duly installed by the Board President, made the same Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity.

Following this very important formality, the new President made his way to the ambo and delivered his inaugural address…one of the best, if not the best speech I’ve ever heard!  Be sure to watch the WCC website to read this address once it is posted.

Wyoming Catholic College is so very fortunate to have Dr. Roberts as the new President.  As with so many events over these early years in the life of the College, God’s providence keeps providing what is necessary for the success of this College.  Clearly, Dr. Robert’s own academic formation and life experience are a part of this Providence of God, because we could not have found a better qualified person for this unique and inspiring program.

And Dr. Roberts comes with a beautiful wife and family.  Dr. Roberts brings not only the expertise to guide the College in the next chapter of life, but I believe brings a great heart, and adds a great presence of not only excellent leadership, but warmth and humor to boot.  I have no doubt that his guidance and charisma will be just the medicine for this hour of the great adventure that is the Wyoming Catholic College.  If you are soon embarking upon a college education, and looking for a great Catholic program, you will certainly want to give Wyoming Catholic College a look!

 

Wyoming Catholic College Student Body; August 2013

 

Wyoming Catholic College Graduation Day

People gather for Mass outside Holy Rosary Church in Lander to give thanks to God and celebrate the 2013 graduation class of the Wyoming Catholic College

 Today, the third class will graduate from the Wyoming Catholic College. Family and friends gathered with the College community yesterday evening for a Baccalaureate Mass and dinner.  Bishop Edward Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, was the homilist last night, and will give the commencement address at the graduation ceremony later today.

In the short life of this fledgling College, the tradition is that the graduates gather with parents for the President’s Dinner.  A few awards are given and the President address those in attendance.  This was the final year for outgoing President, Fr. Robert Cook.

Fr. Cook has been a dedicated servant and founder of the Wyoming Catholic College.  He has labored faithfully on behalf of the College and those associated with it.  Fr. Cook has promised to work with the incoming president to guarantee a smooth transition.  I was pleased to recognize Fr. Cook at the end of the dinner last night with a few brief comments.  The student-body’s love for Fr. Cook is obvious.

Towards the end of the dinner, two young and very talented graduates came forward to sing a song they had written that captured their four year experience at Wyoming Catholic College.  These two young women could probably make a decent living as entertainers, but something tells me they have even greater gifts and more urgent contributions to make.  The name of their song was Long Days, Short Years.  The blend of their voices was beautiful enough, complimented by the melody of their tune and witty lyrics.  Well done, Sadie and Margie!

You may enjoy reading a recent article on the unique nature of the Wyoming Catholic College in the National Catholic Register.

In-climate weather (translate another heavy snow) has forced moving the graduation ceremonies from Sinks Canyon to Holy Rosary Church.  The ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 this morning.

+pde

 

Snow, Meetings & Another Confirmation Run

The bishops in my support group have been emailing and texting me recently asking if I am tired of the snow yet.  Yes, Southeastern Wyoming received another foot of snow earlier this week.  The snow began Tuesday evening and continued pretty much till mid-afternoon Wednesday.  When I awoke on Wednesday morning, there was already 10″ of fresh, wet, heavy snow on the ground.  I could hear limbs breaking and falling under the weight of the pretty white stuff.

The early week was heavy on the administration side of things.  It is good for the people of the Church to know that a bishop really does have to consult quite a bit in the decision he makes.  This week, the Diocesan Finance Council met to review the results of the fiscal year quickly drawing to a close and to approve the budget for the upcoming year.  Lay men and women with varying expertise give me great guidance and advice regarding our finances.  I’m glad to report that we will end our fourth year running in the black. 

The board who manages the investments for our retired priests, the St. Joseph Society, also met this week.  This board is made up of priests from the diocese who are also very thoughtful regarding both investments and the benefits for our retired priests.

A good friend, Mark Seabrook, arrived Wednesday night to accompany me on this week’s tour of six more parishes for conferral of the sacrament of Confirmation.  We were in Riverton last night to celebrate with a group who were unable to make an earlier date due to snow.  Two students from St. Stephen’s Indian Mission and six students from St. Margaret’s in Riverton received the Sacrament of Confirmation. 

Today and tomorrow, I will be in Lander for the graduation ceremonies of the third graduating class of Wyoming Catholic College.

 

A Shepherd’s Travels Among His People

St. Stephen Church, Wind River Indian Reservation

 

After a couple winter months spent primarily in the office, travels resumed once again this month. In the past two weeks, I’ve celebrated Mass or visited to following: Blessed Sacrament in Ft. Washaki, St. Joseph in Ethete, St. Stephen’s, Lander for a brief visit with some of the faculty at the Wyoming Catholic College, St. Margaret in Riverton, St. Francis in Thermopolis, St. Mary Magdalene in Worland, Our Lady of Fatima in Casper as well as the Cathedral and Holy Trinity in Cheyenne.

Today I’m enjoying a bone fide day off.  I truly enjoy the opportunity to be with the people in the diocese.  It reminds me of the way Jesus himself ministered through his travels from town to town, one person at a time.  These recent trips provided an opportunity to simply be with the people that wished to come for Mass, dinner and a visit. 

Visiting with Religous Education students: St. Mary Magdalen, Worland

 Matt Potter and I have been ‘drumming up business’ in relationship to our annual Living and Giving in Christ appeal.  This allows me to make a stronger connection with parishioners on a personal basis and gives us the opening to help them see that the parish as vital as it is in our ministry as a church is connected to a larger, universal Church.  We are also able to educate around the need for the appeal regarding the ministries it supports as well as make a strong argument for the spiritual theology of stewardship and the many ways we are asked to make a generous return to the Lord for all he has done for us.

Not all of the visits revolved around the Living and Giving in Christ theme.  While I was in the area, I simply ‘popped in’ on some of the faculty and staff at the Wyoming Catholic College.  It is good for them as well to know of the bishop’s presence and support for their good work.

The visit to Our Lady of Fatima was an official Pastoral Visitation.  In the Fall, I began making such visitations in order to look a bit deeper at the workings of our parishes.  I get an extended time to visit with the priests, deacons and pastoral staff about their work and to hear from them about their challenges and concerns.  There is also time for visiting with the Finance Council, Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Trustees.  Of course, there is also the great joy of celebrating the weekend Masses and the gatherings that follow.  Fr. Fox and the folks at Fatima are doing a great job!

Of course, there were the moments of being ‘back in the office.’  The correspondence, meetings and staying in touch with my own staff never ends.  I and the people of this diocese are truly blessed by a great chancery staff.  I do not have to worry while I am on the road about business continuing as usual back in the office.  We have tremendously dedicated and talented people serving us!

Carmelite monks with Bishop Etienne: Fr. Joseph Marie, Br. Elias, Fr. Daniel Mary, Fr. Michael Mary, Br. Simon Mary

Yesterday, we had a rare visit from our cloistered Carmelite monks.  As we had some timely business to discuss, and I was unable to get to their location, I invited their Chapter members to come to Cheyenne. 

I’m pleased to report that our Carmelite monks are making great progress along with their Foundation Board in fundraising for their new monastery.  Their building plans are nearing a final draft, after several years of creative effort.  Also, we are very near approval of the latest revisions of their constitutions, which is the canonical document that defines their charism, way of life, and governance. 

As this readership already knows, I have a great love for our Carmelite monks, and always enjoy my time spent visiting with them.  Please pray for them as their planning progresses closer and closer to seeing their dreams realized of finally living on their new mountain property!

 Blessings to all in your Lenten journey.  Draw close to Christ, and allow the light of his face to shine upon you.  Trust always in his guidance and love.

+pde

Wyoming Catholic College; Convocation Mass

Preaching at Convocation Mass for Wyoming Catholic College

 Yesterday, the Wyoming Catholic College community gathered for Mass to officially open the new academic year.  The Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit is typically used for such occasions.  The readings provide unique opportunity to reflect upon the goal of academic life, namely, to teach and discover at an ever more personal level, the eternal Truth, Jesus Christ.  Christ gave us His Spirit of Truth to dwell within us, as a means of keeping His promise to remain with us always.

The Wyoming Catholic College provides a wonderful atmosphere of faith for these young people to further develop and their faith, so as to live it with greater and greater integrity. 

Another very important part of this Convocation Mass each year is the Oath of Fidelity given by all members of the Wyoming Catholic College faculty.  Once again this year, they renewed their profession of faith and made a promise to faithfully teach and uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church.  I am very proud of the Catholic identity of our Wyoming Catholic College, and the dedication of those affiliated with her vision and mission.

Wyoming Catholic College Faculty making Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity during Convocation Mass

 A very good sign that in these early years, the College is successfully living out this mission to raise up new leaders for the Church and society, is that several of the incoming freshman class are siblings of those already graduated from Wyoming Catholic College. 

After Mass and a short break, there was the traditional matriculation ceremony, in which the freshmen sign the enrollment book of the Wyoming Catholic College.  The point is clearly made that they are ‘consecrating’ themselves for the next four years to seek the Truth of Christ, and to make a dwelling place for this Light and Truth in their own lives.  They are reminded that such an effort to seek Christ above all else requires sacrifice and hard work.  The joy of the community that surrounds them makes it quite evident that such sacrifice and hard work has its own reward!

 

2012 - 2013 student body, Wyoming Catholic College

 After the matriculation ceremony, there was a nice picnic on the lawn.  Tents were up and some great food available.  Clearly, the students were enjoying renewing their friendships and establishing new ones.  It was also good to see a few parents and families present to enjoy the festivities.  Classes begin on Wednesday. 

Have a great year, Wyoming Catholic College!

+pde

(all photos courtesy of Joseph Susanka)

 

St. Rose Parish Visitation

After another five day road trip in the diocese, I spent a lovely weekend with the people of St. Rose in Torrington.  Wednesday evening through Friday night I spent in Lander for a two day board meeting of the Wyoming Catholic College.  The college had another great year, espescially with the innaugural graduation.  However, the board is not resting, there is still much planning and decision making to do.  We had a very good few days together, and please God, made some good decisions regarding the college’s future.

Saturday morning, I was in Casper for a Dean’s meeting.  Then, that afternoon, I joined the Wyoming Council of Catholic Women for their annual board meeting.  The Wyoming Council of Catholic Women has a great tradition in Wyoming, and are well respected by our pastors for their various roles of service in the respective parish communities.  After joining these ladies for the first half of their meeting, I was on the road again to be in Torrington for the Saturday evening Mass to begin the weekend celebration of Ascension.

Ascension Mass at St. Rose in Torrington

It has been a while since I have had the opportuntiy to celebrate all three parish Masses in a given weekend. The Saturday evening Mass was a bilingual Mass, with one of the readings read in Spanish, and several hymns and Mass parts in Spanish as well.  I was surprised at the strong presence of the Hispanic community in this part of the state.  As is usually the case, all three Masses had a different feel, but the music and participation at all three was very refreshing.  As you can see in the picture, the 4th degree KofC members were present as well.

After each of the Masses a small reception was held for people to mingle and enjoy some time with eachother, and of course, to give the bishop a chance to visit.  I always enjoy this opportunity to visit with the people and learn a bit about their history in the parish and diocese.  And, as is getting to be the custom, there are generally a few good invitations extended to the bishop to do some fishing and hunting!

After the 11:00 mass, a more substantial meal was presented in the parish hall.  A good number of people remained and we had a nice visit.  Torrington has a strong agricultural base, with many farmers in the area.  Of course, the St. Joseph Children’s home is also in Torrington, so I saw quite a few of their employees also. 

I hope your own Ascencion celebration was inspiring!
This week, the priests of the diocese will be on their annual retreat in Colorado.  Please pray that this will be a spiritually renewing week.
God bless,
+pde

Historic Commencement

It has been quite an emotional, historic weekend in Lander, Wyoming, as the Wyoming Catholic College celebrated its first graduation.  What began as a dream and entailed much faith, hard work, courage and  hope in the future reached a dramatic result today.  Those who came in the Fall of 2007 not sure what to expect, both faculty, staff, students and family, and those who joined the procession along the way had something quite beautiful and significant to celebrate today!

Pictured above with myself and the three co-founders, Bishop David Ricken, now bishop of Green Bay, Fr. Bob Cook (a priest of the Diocese of Cheyenne), and Dr. Robert Carlson.  Both Bishop Ricken and Dr. Carlson were honored in today’s graduation ceremony. 

Family and friends gathered from around the country these past few days.  The senior awards dinner was Thursday evening, and the Baccalarueate Mass Friday evening, followed by the President’s Dinner.  The Friday evening dinner gave me the “perfect opportunity” to also mention and “honor” Fr. Bob for his work, and role as a co-founder.  (All I can say is, “you had to be there”)

A cold front came through Friday evening during the Mass and really cooled things down.  Despite the overcast day Saturday, and rain showers, nothing could dappen the spirits of the moment.  This latest venture in a Catholic College offers quite a unique experience in a liberal arts education.  “Liberal” of course comes from the Latin “liber”, meaning, “free”, and that is exactly what this education seeks to accomplish; the formation of young men and women to freely live out their full human potential as God’s children.

Congratulations, Wyoming Catholic College and graduates!

(Photos courtesy of Mark Seabrook)

+pde

Wyoming Catholic College Baccalaureate Mass Homily

Bishop David Ricken, Co-Founder of Wyoming Catholic College and myself

Wyoming Catholic College Baccalaureate Mass

My dear friends, for many reasons, it is good to be here! 

 Knowing that we are here to celebrate a rather historic moment in the life of this Wyoming Catholic College, and more specifically, the lives of our graduates, I cannot help but wonder where God will continue to lead our graduates, and what God has in store for this Wyoming Catholic College…  But, for good reason, the Lord does not seek to share things of the future with us, rather, he calls us to trust in Him, and focus all our effort and energy in faithfully serving Him, His church, and His people.

In our first reading this evening, we hear the very selection from the Prophet Isaiah chosen by Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry.  In many ways, our graduates now stand at the threshold of their “public ministry”.  Even though some will go on to further studies, all will now begin to take what they have learned here in “God’s Country” and apply these lessons to building something of their own lives, which, please God, will be the work of furthering God’s Kingdom.

 So, dear graduates, what does God’s WORD have to tell us this evening?

 First of all, the spirit of the LORD that was upon Isaiah, and upon Jesus, is also within you.  Each of you is anointed with this Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation.  In this Easter Season, we recall that the very life of the Risen LORD is at work in us.  This is the Spirit leading and guiding you through faith, and it is this faith, as St. Paul tells us in the Second Reading this evening, that grants us the grace in which we stand.  (Romans 5:1-2, 5-8)  St. Paul in this Letter to the Romans also tells us that is through this same Spirit that the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.  It is this same Spirit proclaimed by the Psalmist who renews the face of the earth (Psalm 104)

It is this Spirit of God, vivifying the Life of Christ within us, that we may courageously live our life as a proclamation of the Gospel. In many ways, it is this Spirit of courage that led you here to Lander, to be a part of the beginning of this great new adventure in Catholic education.  And now, dear graduates, in this time of the Church, this time in which you set your sails for the future; acknowledge that this is the time of the new evangelization.   This is the time when we are to re-proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.  This is the time when many Christians and Catholics are embarrassed or hesitant to speak the name of Jesus.  St. Peter reminds us that there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.  (Acts 4:12)

I propose to you, graduates that among all the things you have received and learned in your time here, nothing is more important or urgent than this truth.  During your time here, I am sure you have grown in self-awareness and self-confidence; you have grown in knowledge and in wisdom; you have grown in your love for the Church and even your hopes for the future.  But above all, it is your knowledge of the faith, your knowledge of Christ, and your ability to credibly and lovingly proclaim Christ to the world, through integrity, compassion, service, and yes, the words you speak, that is most important.

 Our Church and world today need your witness of faith.  We need the joyful expression of your loving relationship with Christ.  Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today of His abiding presence, and it is in this presence that true life is lived: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”  (John 14: 23-26)  As the mature Christian learns to live in this Presence of Christ, to move continually in and from this Life of Christ, then his or her life is a blessing to the world and society, as the Prophet Isaiah tells us. 

A life lived in and for Christ is the only way to bring the oil of gladness, healing and comfort to others.  It is our life lived in faith, lived in and for Christ that brings hope and joy to the listless spirit of our world.  When we faithfully live our Christian life and vocation, it is then that we, and those we bring to Christ, are called oaks of justice, planted by the Lord to show his glory.  (Isaiah 61: 3) 

The hope of this Wyoming Catholic College is that you, who are descendants of this faith, will live renowned lives.  You now go forth as the first descendants of this Wyoming Catholic College, and through faith, as heirs to the Kingdom.  May you be renowned above all for your faith, but also for your love and service of God’s people.  May you also be renowned for the contributions you bring to each of your chosen fields of labor.  May you always be acknowledged for your faith and good works and glorify God with the dignity and integrity of your lives. 

As Christ was sent by the Father into the world, to be the face and revelation of God to His people, so now Christ, along with this entire Wyoming Catholic College community, sends each of you into the world for the same purpose.  You are capable and prepared for this wonderful work, not only because of the formation you have received here, but especially because of Christ’s promise in today’s Gospel:  The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.  (John 14:26) 

My dear friends thank you for your presence with us these past four years.  Thank you for the gift of you, and the joy and faith you so generously shared with us, and for helping establish what will, Please God, be a lasting legacy for years to come.

As each of you has been a blessing to this College during its early years, we are sure you will be a blessing to the world and society you now enter, because we are sure that you enter this world and society as Christ-bearers, and there can be no greater blessing in this life.  Please know you go forth with our blessing, but above all, with God’s!

July 2014
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