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May 13

Chris Smeaton

Living and Learning

This weekend I provided messages to the graduation classes of Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge and St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek. With both convocations being on the same day, it was a mad dash to finish up with CCH in the morning and then drive  the 1 hour to arrive in time for the ceremony in Pincher Creek.  Although another member of my senior administration could have provided the address, I believe that whenever possible, it is my responsibility to be present and celebrate our graduates. Guest speakers have the right to have a longer speech but I’m of the thought that my remarks should be fairly concise and carry a message that is linked to the graduation theme. Therefore, here is one of my addresses this past weekend. Enjoy!

Oki! Bonjour mesdames et messieurs and good morning ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests and graduates of 2012. It is my pleasure to bring greetings on behalf of the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division.

This past week I have been present at two traditions of CCH graduations, the Feather Blessing Ceremony & Metis Sash presentation on Monday and our graduation mass last night. Traditions like these speak to who we are and more importantly who we want to become. Traditions like these also speak to your theme of Living and Learning.

Living is not only about today or this week (as we parents sigh in relief). It is about yesterday and the many days to come. Living is not about getting what you want but receiving what you need. It is not about giving because you have to it is about giving because you want to. And finally, living is not a gift for yourself but rather a gift to share with others.  Our Catholic background, our Christian faith calls us to live a life of service and I would suggest that through your parents and families guidance and the entire school system, you have developed an exceptional response especially in the area of social justice. In fact, you are part of today’s youth who have a far better understanding of injustice, intolerance and prejudice than any generation previous. It is you, the youth of today who, often through social media have changed political landscapes, brought awareness to economic travesties and alerted the world to war criminals like Joseph Kony. You have said this is not right, this is not acceptable, what can we do to change it and then began to change it. That is not a life for self, it is a life for others. Continue to embrace this life!

Unfortunately learning has been defined in today’s world simply as results. Learning is a process that all of us should be engaged in during our entire life. While a result is final, learning is continual. Learning is less about natural ability and skill and far more about effort. It is about having a mindset that is focused on growth and development and less about the end result. In today’s world we need learners. Learners want to improve, they want to get better and be better. Our world needs learners who are creative and innovative, who want to ask why before how. We need people like you who embrace struggle, who risk take, who fail forward and who understand learning, especially deep learning causes us to be stretched and somewhat uncomfortable. You can be satisfied with a result but never stop your desire to learn more.

Living and learning is not just a graduation theme, it is a way of life. And this way of life has been influenced by many. Please do not forget to give thanks to all those that have helped you live and learn throughout these past years. Thank the teachers and staff members in your schools, your friends and families, your parents and especially as we celebrate this Mother’s Day weekend, thank your mothers. God’s love is often compared to a mother’s love- unconditional and forever. Don’t forget your moms!  

As you leave your high school experience, remember to live fully, love deeply and learn always! On behalf of the division, I wish each and every one of you God’s blessings. Thank you!

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