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Father Muench Says...

Congratulations, graduates!

June 17, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

CONGRATULATIONS, ALL OF YOU GRADUATES! Today, I would like to take this time to congratulate all the 2020 graduates – those who are graduating from high school and those graduating from college. I am truly sad that for most of you because your graduation ceremony is not what you hoped for, not what you thought it would be. Well, I do hope you had a party or two. I consider graduation to be an important occasion in life. Oh, yes! I also want to congratulate the eighth-grade graduates moving on to high school, and I want to congratulate those graduating from kindergarten.

Graduation is not a one-day event. Graduation is the sum of years of study and being transformed. Graduation is a step in life’s adventure. Graduation is a time for gratitude. I believe you, graduates, will agree with me that each of one of us had depended on innumerable people who got us to this step, this graduation. I can guarantee that you will remember them all, no matter how old you get to be, especially the special ones.

Personally, I continue to be so grateful for so many people who have had such a profound influence on my life and all I have accomplished, including all of my graduations. Let me tell you some of them; it is an important exercise in gratitude when I think of them all. There are my parents, my family, especially some aunts and uncles, so many teachers, counselors – including many priests and religious sisters. And I must tell you that there are some who truly transformed my life, and yet they were only with me a day or two. Some of them became real heroes for me.

Here is something you graduates, have heard many times this month: graduation means newness – new challenges, new and exciting adventures. I believe that as a graduate you have achieved something very spectacular, a huge accomplishment, so now is the time to put all this to work for yourself. It is time for the next step, time to develop yourself in a new person. Now begins the work toward the next graduation.

Beside the regular formal graduations, I like to think that there are many other not so formal graduations. By that I mean those many steps – small or big – that mark the achievements of life. I pray for all of you, graduates, that your life will be full of many such graduations, steps in the right direction that will be the contribution that you make this world a better place.

One more thing today: I must admit my favorite graduation. I was pastor for several years at St. Mary’s, where there is an elementary school. One of my tasks as pastor was to hand out diplomas at the kindergarten graduation each year. Besides the fact that it was fun, each year it was truly fascinating to notice how these kids, these young men and women had changed. It wasn’t just that they’d grown bigger, they had also learned to express themselves well.

Finally, I would like to offer my congratulations and gratitude to the real heroes of any graduation ceremony: the teachers, the administrators, the counselors, and also the many lunchroom staff members and even the cleaning staff members of each and every school. This year with all the twisting and turning of the school year and the teaching methods and the attempts at graduations, all of these folks have had to move to the front lines, and all the graduates certainly can recognize just how many great folks were involved to keep the school doing all that it was mean to do in leading, guiding and helping and teaching. They are rather special folks.

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