"What shall I render to the Lord for all of his bounty to me?" (Psalm 116:12)
The Holy Spirit was very much present at OLSWA’s Twelfth Graduation Mass and Commencement Ceremony as each speaker invited the graduates and students to ponder deeply the question posed by the day’s Responsorial Psalm.
In his moving homily, Bishop Michael Mulhall, the Ordinary of the Diocese of Pembroke, told the graduates that the reason for intellectual formation is, first and foremost, to be of service to others. He exhorted the students and congregation to ask with hearts “full of thanksgiving”: “How can I serve?” “Be attuned,” he said, “and give back to the Lord what he asks.” Speaking specifically of the graduates, the bishop stated, “If they empty themselves with confidence and joy in the midst of their vocations, the Lord will give them everything they need."
“Is this what God wants?” The Commencement Keynote Speaker, The Honourable Pierre Lemieux (Member of Parliament for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) prompted the graduates to ask that question when moving through life’s uncertainties. With considerable humour, he suggested several practical steps necessary to remain a faithful Catholic in the public square and, indeed, in any situation where the Lord might place a person.
As a family man who has made remarkable strides in the military realm, in professional engineering, and now in politics, Mr. Lemieux used his own life experiences as an example. When he first started out as a young man, he did not know what the Lord had in store; he advised the students that it is important to just take that “first step,” only knowing that you must be “ready to serve,” and with the key question in your heart, “Is this what God wants?”
As long as one is oriented towards God, and placed in the Lord’s presence through prayer and discernment, one can move forward safely; but “If Satan gets you to lay down your faith, he will have won and you will have lost.” Mr. Lemieux gave an example of military practice from ancient times as a strategy for spiritual protection: “Do not remove your armour [of faith], or your shield...if you do, Satan will let the arrows fly.”
Dr. Cassidy presents Mr. Lemieux with the Culture of Life Award.He went on to say that God “has work for you to do now,” that each individual has more influence for good in his own circles and current circumstances than he could ever have in the halls of Parliament. Quoting Pope John-Paul II, Mr. Lemieux urged everyone to “Be not afraid” as they each plant seeds of faith that the Lord himself will harvest.
He encouraged the graduates to “remember that everywhere you go, YOU ARE CATHOLIC...Let us work well for the Lord.”
From those to whom much is given, much is to be expected. Following in the same theme of service, third-year student Miss Rebecca Wilson, chosen by her peers to deliver the valedictory address, quoted the Gospel to remind her fellow graduates of their roles as faithful Catholics in their future pursuits; the spiritual and intellectual formation which they received at OLSWA “will structure the rest of their lives,” she said.
In a particularly touching moment, Miss Wilson personally thanked each fellow graduate. She named their particular gifts, and expressed her gratitude to them “for being the hands and feet of Christ” in her life.
She aptly captured the mission of the Academy by quoting a favourite hero, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati: “To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a struggle for truth – that is not living, but existing.” As they move on to new ventures, OLSWA’s graduates will be expected to engage the culture and, strengthened by the spiritual and academic tools received at OLSWA, counter its illusions. “Since we have been so blessed to receive such a wonderful education here,” Miss Wilson stated, “it is our responsibility to share this knowledge with the world.”
Faye Breen, recipient of the John Paul II Award.During the prayerful Graduation Mass, the OLSWA Schola and Members of the Sacred Music Society, directed by Maestro Uwe Lieflander, sang several glorious selections from Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Over 50 students received either the one-, two-, or three-year Certificate in Christian Humanities. While most 1st- and 2nd-year students will return for further studies at OLSWA, the third-year students will be going on for a final year at other colleges and universities where they will receive their Bachelor of Arts degree: Redeemer University College, Tyndale University College, Trinity Western University, Christendom College, and St. Philip’s Seminary. Graduating students also received personalized certificates of congratulations and best wishes from MPP John Yakabuski and MP Cheryl Gallant who were in attendance at the commencement.
The Third-Year Graduates of 2012.