Campus Minister Sr. Ann Howard, SND, delivered a beautiful homily during the Baccalaureate Service in Notre Dame Chapel on May 17 to launch a great commencement weekend. Below is Sr. Ann’s homily:
PEACE BE WITH YOU!
Greetings in the Love of God who has brought you to this moment of grace: Commencement!
Commencement is a word that means a beginning. And every beginning signifies an end. As you end your college days, your hard work and study, your inner growth and development, you begin a path of lifelong learning. Your Trinity Days may be complete, your learning never ends! May you continue to learn as long as you are drawing breath! St. Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a French woman of faith from the early 1800’s, loved God and instilled in the early Sisters and students this idea that learning is on-going and life-long. St. Julie would love the confidence and the courage you are exhibiting today! May your Commencement be a new beginning of further learning, deeper growth. Congratulations!
Today, in Hannah’s words, in Hebrew Scripture , we hear a ‘fiat! to God’ in Hannah’s desire to fulfill her promise to God. Her child would exercise right relationship with God and others. And in the reading from the Prophet, on Children, which is read at many graduations, we hear that children are born to live their own God-given lives. May the direction be– like Samuel, like children of all ages—a trajectory be towards a full life. One that bends towards peace and justice. The gospel reading from John, read this Sunday in our churches, tells us that Jesus’ word was PEACE. Peace beyond fear or doubt– PEACE is what he breathed on those gathered. Martin Luther King, Jr. is known to have said, “True peace is not the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” As you step into your preferred future at commencement, draw some inspiration from the words we just heard, read by Dean Meechie, when Jesus appeared to his friends after his death… and resurrection, Not,“I’m glad that’s over!’ or “You have no idea what I have been through!” he said, “Peace be with you.”
In our world today, on the planet earth, and in our nation, and in our neighborhoods, and in our families and surely in our hearts, PEACE is a desired entity, a goal for which we work, for which we yearn.
These words are so pertinent to college graduates as you inherit your place in the world, may it be a world at peace. PEACE so our world as nations, as peoples of various cultures and geographies and sovereignties, can live in mutual respect and trust one another. PEACE be with you. Human Relations majors, political scientists, international studies majors, we ask God to bless you in your future calling.
PEACE so our planet, Earth, which is our common home, may be cared for and respected for the fragile balance that makes it work. So rich with diversity and so tender in the balance of chemistry and of careless pollution, let us strive to be agents of caring for the earth. PEACE be with you. Chemists, Science majors and Early Education majors, please continue to cultivate a care and an interest to protect the earth’s future.
Peace in our nation and our neighborhoods, may we learn to value all human life, all ages, all abilities, all racial, ethnic, educational backgrounds, toward a feasible and possible relationship of integrity and cooperation! With safety in playgrounds and schools, in city streets and rural farms and forests, let us grow in Peace. PEACE be with you! May our forensic scientists and future attorneys and civics teachers and imams and church pastors nurture the grand hope of Peace-through Justice in our neighborhoods and in our nation.
Peace in our families, for this is where we learn to live contently and peaceably. Each knowing her or his place within the home, and each contributing according to ability and talents, may we look to our families with eyes that cherish the presence of one another. You know what that requires from you, as a family, for families are different- each needing love and forgiveness, and a good measure of humor, to thrive in our day. PEACE be with you!
Students graduating this weekend, receiving your Associates, Bachelors and Masters degrees, PEACE be with you, for you have worked hard and achieved your dream. ALLELUIA!
Now, I invite all here to hold your hand toward our graduates as a gesture of blessing. Trinity Washington University is better for your presence among us. May the enduring Spirit of God’s love for you, of your own belief and profession of that faith, continue to sustain you. May you always remember that you are not alone, that God walks with you into your uniquely blessed futures. Take with you, the gift of PEACE.…Amen.