Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen And Heard (May 22, 2008)

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta | Published May 22, 2008

Each year, I am fortunate enough to participate in the graduation ceremonies for some of our Catholic high schools. While schedules do not permit me to attend all of the separate graduation events that fill the calendars of our schools, I wanted to share with all of our graduates some personal reflections that I was able to offer to those whose ceremonies I did attend so far this year:

“My Dear Young Friends,

I spend a great amount of my time as the Archbishop of Atlanta with our young people. It is perhaps the most personally satisfying part of my ministry. I sometimes do fantasize over what it might be like to have some youngsters of my very own. I know that on occasion, a lot of your parents might be more than willing to let me have my dreams fulfilled by taking several of you home with me for a trial run!

I do imagine what it might be like to witness the birth of a son or daughter—to see them off on their first day of school—to watch them achieve a great sports or musical or theatrical triumph—to witness them complete a well-deserved academic success such as your graduation is for you today. Those moments, I believe, must be the highlight of parenting. And they fill a parent’s heart with pride, joy and more than a bit of nostalgia. Today, your parents will probably search for words to express their pride in and their love for you. I hope that you will also find a moment to tell them how grateful you are to them—for life, for love, for support, for an education that has prepared you for success. I suspect that those words might be as difficult for you to find as the phrases that your parents may search for.

In many respects graduation day is a distillation of the task of parenting and it belongs to them far more so than it does to their offspring. I urge our students to tolerate their parents for their behavior on this happy occasion—they’ve done so for you on many times in the past and probably will be called upon to do so many more times in the future.

Our graduates will leave a Catholic school during this formal ceremony, but you will hardly leave the Catholic Church! Our prayer for you now and always is that you will remember not merely the academic lessons that you have learned in our Catholic schools, but also the faith lessons that have come your way as well—in the long run they will prove far more beneficial and enduring.

May your tomorrows be bright and filled with good fortune, health and laughter. As I watched some of our young graduates, I remembered what it was like to be a high school graduate, and I think—with a little stretch of my imagination—I can imagine just what joy it must be to be the parent of a high school graduate as well!”

Our Catholic schools are made possible because of the generosity of parents, parishioners, clergy, religious and benefactors whose benevolence and dedication to Catholic schools make these institutions available to those fortunate students who share this blessing. From the heart, I thank them in my name and in the name of our families who enjoy this blessing.