Yesterday, I began my graduation ceremonies tour and addressed students at Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge and St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek. Being able to address all our graduates is always a highlight even though, it is fairly hectic with two graduations scheduled on the same day in locations 100 kilometres apart. Regardless of the travel, these events are too significant for me to be absent without extreme reason!
Often, part of the ceremony is the address from a former graduate as a guest speaker. This year, I had the pleasure of listening to Kristin Ailsby-Wood at the CCH graduation. Ms. Ailsby-Wood, a local lawyer provided a powerful message with humour throughout, and kept the graduates and the entire audience well engaged. Her message about finding what motivates you was a great reminder for us all.
Even though there are some common aspects of every graduation ceremony, each has its own traditions which makes it unique. I always appreciate that differences between the large and small, urban and rural graduations. Because of these differences, I always try to write my address around the grad theme to ensure uniqueness from year to year and school to school. Although my messages may have some commonality, it is always specific to the school. I also fully understand that graduation ceremonies can be fairly long events and even though my message should be meaningful, it should be short. Below are my graduation addresses which focus on being significant.
CCH Graduation Speech 2014
Last night at your graduation mass, Fr. Kevin challenged you, without ever saying it, to be, “More than a face in a crowd!” In our society that usually means to become famous or rich or powerful. But in our Catholic faith it means more about being significant, showing kindness and mercy, and expressing compassion and love.
You are already more than a face in a crowd in the eyes of your parents and families. You are their flesh and blood; you are their sons and daughters; you are special and unique. And while you will always be that in the eyes of your parents, families and maybe even close friends, it is now time to be that, out there.
During your time in Holy Spirit Catholic Schools and especially in your years at Catholic Central, you have been prepped for out there. The classes you’ve taken are all geared toward your future in post-secondary or directly into the world of work. And while we would like to believe that you will always remember the classes we taught, like conics, titrations and persuasive essays) your most important memories will be around the times and activities where you were learning to be more significant. The social justice projects, Christmas hampers, blood drives, etc. were all part of you becoming more aware of the greater good and ultimately becoming more than a face in the crowd.
You are our future and you are the leaders of tomorrow. When you leave this high school experience, don’t settle for being invisible and equally important; don’t search for fame and fortune only. Search for being significant and ultimately changing the life of one person for the better. Act with compassion, act with mercy and most of all, act with love. That may not get your name in bright lights that often quickly fade but it will lead you to joy. It will lead you to be significant in the eyes of our Lord and it will ensure that you are more than a face in the crowd.
As a graduate of CCH you are now part of a rich tradition. Many who have walked the hallowed halls and donned the blue and white have made a significant impact in the world… out there. And now, as a graduate of CCH, class of 2014, it is your time.
Remember that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. You as students of Holy Spirit Catholic Schools and graduates of Catholic Central have been called to be more than a face in the crowd. Good luck Graduates of 2014 and God Bless!
St. Michael’s Graduation Speech 2014
When I think of your graduation theme, “Life in Color” I automatically think of photographs. Most of the photos taken when I was very young, in the early 60’s were in black and white. Although they told a story, it always appeared that they were missing something. The addition of color seemed to add vibrancy and diversity to the photos.
The world that we live in often wants to exist in only black and white. It is a world of either/or! Rules exist so that there is only one way of doing things, only one way to respond! And while I understand the need for rules to ensure safety and some common standards and expectations, life must be lived in color.
Life in color doesn’t mean not following the rules; it means following the rules with passion and creativity, with justice and mercy and most of all, with love and compassion. Life in color requires you to both follow your heart and your head. It is about choosing a life that will lead you to be significant, not necessarily in a fame and fortune perspective but rather significant to the ones closest to you and the world that extends from you.
You have been blessed to be part of St. Michael School. The early learning to grade 12 structure, dual track system allows you to experience the real world everyday. You are surrounded by younger students who idolize you and watch your every move. You are their big brothers and sisters and their mentors. What they see in you, is a life in color!
In a short time you will be leaving these save halls and going out there! During your time in St. Michael’s, you have been well prepped for out there. The classes you’ve taken have been geared toward your future in post-secondary or directly into the world of work. And while we would like to believe that you will always remember the classes we taught, like conics, titrations and persuasive essays) your most important memories will be around the times and activities when you truly lived in color. Not in a cold rule based black and white world, but rather in a world full of love and compassion. A world where you made another feel better brightened one’s spirit and added color to their life!
You are our future and our leaders of tomorrow! Take the experiences from your years at St. Michael’s School, honor the deep and rich values and traditions of your community and live your life in color. Be bold! Be brave! Be passionate and be loving and you will live a life rich in color! Good luck St. Michael Graduates of 2014 and God Bless!