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Father Muench Says...

Thanks, Coach, for the inspiration!

June 17, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Franciscan University of Steubenville is not well known for its sports programs.  The college is well recognized here in our North Country as many young people from the diocese have attended this Catholic university in Ohio.
So, I was interested when I learned that they had invited Lou Holtz, the former football coach at Notre Dame University and current sports commentator on ESPN, to deliver the commencement address

The talk he gave was magnificent.  I listened to it through a video on YouTube after a friend of mind sent me this link.  It was truly a fantastic talk, sounding rather like a half time talk to one of his football teams.  His enthusiasm has inspired many of his teams over the years.  They picked up his challenge to play well in the second half. 

In the same way, this graduation talk had to inspire these graduates in this class. It was that good.  You can watch it yourself – I encourage you to find it on YouTube!

Coach Holtz has quite a good sense of humor.  I won’t tell you any of his jokes here – I would rather have you hear them from the Coach on the video – I am certain that you will enjoy them.  They are great!

He makes it very evident that his is a committed Catholic and makes it clear that he has a deep faith in God and that he is guided by the teachings of Jesus.  The coach has a very clever way of expressing his ideas.  For example, he closes his talk by saying: “If you want to be happy for one hour, eat a steak – if you want to be happy for a day, play golf – if you want to be happy for a lifetime, put your faith in Jesus.”

Coach Holtz suggested that everyone needs four thing in life – “something to do, someone one to love, something to believe in (he adds that for him that he believes intensely in the Lord Jesus) and something to look forward to.” 

In this regard, he challenged these graduates to have good solid goals.  I stopped to think about this.  No matter what age I agree that it is important to continue to make goals.  They may be simple or they may be rather complicated.  I have always believed that on each day we can make our lives better. Actually, on each day, we can make our world a better place.

How is that accomplished? 

I am well aware that you can’t simply begin each day by deciding to hunt something good to do.  I believe, however, in faith that if I am open and willing the Lord will give me opportunities.

These are often very unique opportunities to do something good, to help, to make the world better.  The important thing is that I must be open and willing to find the Holy Spirit’s lead and guidance.

Coach Holtz puts this together in his plan:
“Do what is right – not what is wrong.”
“There is no right time to do the wrong thing.”
“There never is a wrong time to do the right thing.”

He challenges these graduates to always act to the best of their ability.

In his talk he adds this kind of advice, urging positive attitudes.  He tells them to make good decisions, to take personal responsibility, to make a commitment to excellence and to show people that you care.

As I listened to Coach Holtz’s talk, I wondered what I would say if I were asked to give a graduation talk this year.  I would certainly wish that I would have the opportunity to hear a talk like his beforehand.  I would pray for enthusiasm like Coach Holtz since I realize that this would make a real difference.

I would hope that my faith could inject confidence in these graduates for their future, confidence in themselves that they could accomplish so much, confidence in their personal good that they can definitely make a difference in this world. 

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