May 29: Baccalaureate & Commencement Mass

“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” Colossians 3: 12-17

Welcome to family and friends to this Baccalaureate Mass and graduation of our Santa Catalina class of 2021.

Most of all, we greet our young women who have prepared for this day and are ready to bring their gifts of knowledge, creativity, and service to a world that genuinely awaits them.

Many of your friends and family are gathered at home and viewing these ceremonies via live stream. Welcome to all!

Yes, this is your High School Graduation, in a state of mind and in the state of California still disoriented by Covid-19 restrictions.

Join me especially in thanking our faculty, administration, and staff for their efforts these past months. For the moment we appear to be at the end of this long, long Covid-19 winter, and thanks to the vaccines. I believe we will long remember our transition to Zoom and new forms of online teaching; most importantly, our remarkable ability to adapt to new modes of learning.

Our gratitude extends most especially to the thousands of health care professionals on the frontlines of hospital emergency rooms and ICUs in our country and around the world.

How they have battled this dreadful pandemic is the story of Dr. Kai Romero, Santa Catalina graduate of the Class of 2001. We are so eager to hear your account and to know more thoroughly about your vital work. We are honored by your presence today.

“Tell all your friends I am kind,” these are the words of a young person, Catherine Violet Hubbard.

Catherine’s words take on added resonance when we listen attentively to Saint Paul when he says: “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.”

“Tell all your friends I am kind” such a profound statement from one of God’s little ones, Catherine Violet Hubbard.

Several weeks ago, I came across a piece by writer Jennifer Hubbard, the mother of six-year-old Catherine Violet. She was a victim of gun violence at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

If she had lived, today Catherine would be a Junior in high school. Such a shattering experience never goes away, not for a parent, not for a mother.

Since the tragic shooting, Jennifer Hubbard speaks mainly about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a park reserve in Newtown, Connecticut. This sacred space provides a memorial for the “little lamb” that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has tucked into the fold of his arm, caring and rescuing his young.

In Jennifer’s vision for the 34 acres of meadows, woodlands, and trails in Newtown, she explains that the memorial is a “place of compassion and acceptance where all creatures will know they are safe and people are kind, just as Catherine would have wanted.”

In her young life, Catherine was kind and compassionate toward bugs, birds, pets, farm animals, and the memorial reserve provides a learning space to promote the care for “all creatures great and small.”

In Catherine’s own words, when caring for her animal companions, this youngster remarked once, “Tell all your friends I am kind.”

In careful reflection, Jennifer Hubbard thought how in her life and in the life of her family that “picture-perfect events alone would define a lifetime of joy.”

Such was not the case in the aftermath of December 14, 2012. She writes:

“I am reminded my strength lies not in understanding, and my joy is not of this world. My joy is found in basking in the glory of today. My earthy purpose is not about creating moments to stash away and linger over when I am old. My Lord, my God, has a plan and a purpose for greater than fleeting moments – a plan for the creation of heaven on earth. My joy lies in fulfilling his purpose.”

Dear graduates, we celebrate the “glory of today” in you: your graceful presence and promise are what we celebrate today.

In Jennifer Hubbard’s words, “Your joy lies in fulfilling his purpose.”

In the days ahead, may you put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.

After all, Pope Francis tells us that we are called to a “ministry of tenderness.” Indeed, tenderness!

“Tell all your friends that I am kind.” Such a profound message today and in your most promising futures.

Sullivan Court, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

Jennifer Hubbard writes a monthly for Magnificat Magazine. Her essay “The End of Another Year” inspired my comments for this homily.   







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