Bishop LaValley shares his reflection for the National Honor Society induction at Immaculate Heart Central in Watertown March 22 as a message to all students in the North Country:
I am pleased to be with you here tonight to congratulate the newest inductees into the National Honor Society, indeed to applaud all the members of this group of special students. With loving support and the guidance of your parents and of the faculty and staff at Immaculate Heart Central, you have earned the privilege of having your name added to the impressive roster of the National Honor Society.
As you know, back in 1921, the National Honor Society was formed with four purposes in mind: to create enthusiasm for scholarship; to stimulate a desire to render service; to promote leadership; and to develop character.
Any one of these is a most noble purpose in and of itself. Put the four together and you have something special, something that instills hope within all of us as we open the door, ever ready to greet tomorrow.
Let’s take a moment or two and reflect on how these four purposes can be and should be informed by your faith. When it comes to enthusiasm, like never before, you have tremendous reasons to be excited about learning. You have the opportunity to learn about the wonders, the awesomeness of God’s creation. There is so very much to take in, to sort through, to study, to wonder about, to revel in, to embrace and enjoy. Your induction into the National Honor Society affirms your desire to learn and challenges you to never lose the hunger to fill your mind with the knowledge of how much with which we have been gifted by our God.
Given the remarkable progress in communications technology, we are keenly aware of all those who are hurting in our global community. Mother Teresa stands as a heroic model of holiness and sanctity in this respect. And yet, we know that we don’t have to go very far from home to lend a helping hand and caring heart.
The National Honor Society recognizes your service to others. On the day of your baptism, you became a child of God and member of His family of faith. With the gift of the sacramental grace comes the responsibility of being a companion on the journey, a brother or sister with the charge of loving your neighbor as yourself…part of the Great Commandment of Jesus.
Each of us is called to build up the Body of Christ, realizing that nobody is better than anyone else. We remember what Jesus told His followers about how we would all be judged at the end of time: whether we served one another, if we had the vision and the heart to see Jesus in every person we encounter and treated them with the dignity due a child of God.
At Immaculate Heart Central, particularly during Lent, you have ample opportunities to render that service to those who are hurting. For instance, this Lent students at IHC are working diligently to raise funds and draw attention to children suffering from hunger around our world. William Schantz said it so tragically well: “children are competing with vultures for food in garbage dumps.”
The National Honor Society sees in you the potential of good leadership. As we study and pray the Bible we find in the tradition of our faith great heroic leaders and leaders who were pathetic, abysmal failures.
For instance, the great leaders and prophets, Moses and Jeremiah, hesitated when the Lord called them to lead. Their excuses: “No Lord, not me, I’m too young.” Some claimed that they stuttered too much when they talked in public. They felt that nobody would pay any attention to them. The leadership you offer is made most effective by your good, mature example.
The fourth of the purposes proposed by the National Honor Society is to develop character. You have been made in the very image, the very likeness of God. Through your own personal prayer life and participation at Mass, your relationship with Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church will grow. As it does, the traits that are unique to you will surface and then blossom. They will be blessings to your family, your friends, your world as you walk through life.
As I conclude, I would like to remind our honorees to never take anything for granted, but to continue to grow in knowledge and grace. That means a life of self-discipline, sacrifice and just plain hard work. Never be content with just doing what everybody else is doing. Because, you see, when you are mediocre, you are just as close to the bottom as you are to the top. Again congratulations to all of you and to your parents. Exciting times await you ahead. Aspire to be Christ-like in all that you do and you will have been a blessing for all. God bless you all!