Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Go forth and set the world on fire

By BISHOP JOHN N. TRAN, Commentary | Published June 3, 2024  | En Español

May is a month full of celebrations. Besides May Crowning, Mother’s Day and first holy communions, many are also celebrating high school and college graduations. It is estimated that in 2024 there are more than 3.4 million public and nonpublic high school graduates and 4 million college graduates in the United States. 

Bishop John N. Tran

To all our graduates, our heartfelt congratulations for your achievements. The culmination of all the time, energy, sacrifice and work is fitting of a celebration with your family, friends and classmates. I hope that each of you will celebrate and cherish the memories not only of the years spent with your classmates but appreciate and treasure the present moment with those who have been on the journey with you. It may be sad to hear, but soon enough you will be busy with education or job and life! 

Graduation marks the end of a chapter in your life and a new beginning filled with hope and excitement of the dream that lies ahead; it also may be a time of uncertainty and anxiety. For various reasons, not everyone who finished high school will go on to college; in 2023 the college enrollment rate of recent high school graduates was 61.4 percent. Unfortunately, not everyone who finishes college will be able to find a job of their choice either. Among 20- to 29-year-olds who received a bachelor’s degree in 2023, 70.2 percent were employed.  

Regardless of where you are with your future, your achievement taught you at least these three things about life: sacrifices are necessary to achieve your goal, you need others to succeed, and God gifted you with certain talents.  

The diploma you received reflects the sacrifices you have made, from losing sleep or time with friends and family or exercise and hobbies. Some took summer classes; others had to work during the summer and school year to pay for expenses. Your accomplishment is worth the sacrifice. 

Your graduation is possible with the help of God, parents, siblings, friends, classmates, faculty, staff and benefactors. Hence, I join you in thanking all those who made your education possible. In various ways, they too have made the sacrifices necessary for you to achieve your goal. They are indeed blessings to you. As someone once said, “A grateful heart is an expression of humility.” Yes, graduation or any achievement in life cannot be accomplished on our own. 

Your accomplishment reminds you that God has given you talents. Continue to sharpen the gifts he has entrusted to you in the years to come, not only for your good but the good of others; most importantly, for the greater honor and glory of God. In doing so, your life will be fulfilled regardless of what you do.  

Graduates, congratulations! My prayers for each of you is to use your God-given talents and embody faith, hope and love so that in the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, you will be able to “Go forth and set the world on fire.”