Oki! Bonjour Mesdames et Monsieurs and Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and a warm welcome to the stars of the weekend, our 2019 Graduating Class of Catholic Central High School.
I want to begin by thanking the grads for choosing a song, Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver, that I can play on my guitar, I can sing and I actually can recognize the words when I hear it on the radio. Your theme taken from the lyrics of the song, “Place I Belong” has many profound messages that I would like to share briefly in my comments.
Belonging, one of the most important needs for all of us. We all need to find that sense of belonging in our lives. Schools have a responsibility to provide a sense of belonging for students. Catholic Central does an incredible job in offering numerous activities and experiences for students to create a sense of belonging. While that is very important when you are in high school, you will soon learn that it is not the be all and end all.
Take me home… now that’s a place where we should all belong. As parents and guardians, grandparents and extended family, we owe it to our children to ensure they feel that home is a place they belong. Graduates, most of you will become parents in the future- please make sure that you create a home environment where your own children feel loved, supported and know that they belong!
But we know that as humans, we all make mistakes and sometimes don’t offer places of belonging to those in our lives. And that is why it is important to remember that your faith, your church are always places where you belong. I cannot stress this fact enough because there are some out there who do not agree. When you truly believe that you are gift from God, that you were born in the image and likeness of God and that every gift you’ve been given, from your gender to your sexuality, to your physical characteristics or your mental capabilities, make no mistake, YOU BELONG!
Two of our greatest examples of understanding the importance of belonging and community are St. Teresa of Calcutta and the late Jean Vanier who said, “Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.”
You see, there was a time when most of us often believed belonging was all about fitting in. Not being true to our own selves and more worried about what others thought about us instead of simply understanding that God created us in hopes of being the best version of ourselves and not the best version for someone else. The place you belong is here and now, today and tomorrow.
Belonging is not about what God wants from you but rather what God wants for you! The place you belong will always be in the loving presence of God, experiencing His unconditional love. You belong to the CCH Class of 2019! You belong as a graduate of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division and most importantly you belong as a precious child in God’s kingdom. Always know that YOU BELONG!
I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours and all of God’s blessings. Thank you!