Fulfilling our potential, physically and spiritually Print E-mail
Written by William Donohoe   
Thursday, Jun. 29, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

From Bishop Robert C. Morlino:

I was recently invited, as I am each year, to celebrate Mass for and take part in the graduation ceremony for the graduating seniors at St. Ambrose Academy, in Madison. I offer the following valedictory remarks from two outstanding young men who were recently graduated, as they exemplify their readiness for Catholic lay mission.

Justin Hineline, whose remarks were published in the June 15 issue, will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, beginning this fall, and will be enrolled in the Army ROTC curriculum.

William Donohoe, whose remarks are published here, will be attending the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md. reporting later this month.

Let us keep both Justin and William and all our recent graduates in our prayers as they enter this next phase of their lives and continue to discern God’s will for their future.

William Donohoe

I would like to take a brief moment at the beginning of this speech to thank a few people in particular.

I would like to thank God for all his blessings on my life, my two parents for forming me into the person I have become, and all of the coaches, youth leaders, and teachers who have had an impact on my life.

I particularly feel compelled to mention Ms. Maiquez for putting up with me and the rest of the class during our middle school years, Ms. Gahng for her extra efforts this year to assist our needy calculus class, and Mr. Kwas for providing an environment in his history classes where the free expression of ideas could flourish.

Your efforts, and the efforts of those who I did not have time to mention by name here, are not lost on me, or on the class.

Celebration of graduation

Graduation is a lot of things: a celebration of accomplishment, a day of triumph for us weary seniors, a day of relief for some of our teachers, a minimum expectation that society and our parents have for us, and a day of reflection.

Today is an opportunity for all of us to look back on our time here and to cherish the memories we have shared and the lessons we have learned.

For me, this reflection began earlier than today in the preparation of this speech.

In my reflection, a common theme reoccurred. This theme was not one explicitly taught in any class, and was difficult for me to articulate, however, I found it perfectly expressed by Christ’s words in Luke’s Gospel when he said, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48)

I believe that for us 11 graduates, those nine words have a particular significance.

Blessings from God

It is undeniable that God has given much to each and every one of us.

In addition to the generous blessing that is our Catholic faith, we all have loving families, we are all well fed and clothed, and we all live in the richest, freest, and, in my opinion, greatest country in the history of the world: the United States of America.

On top of all of this, we have been given the incredible opportunity to attend school here at St. Ambrose Academy.

Because of the education we received here, we have tackled a challenging curriculum that pushed us to grow.

Instead of hearing the Church misrepresented by the same inaccuracies as She has been for ages, we learned of Her true history and teachings.

Instead of being taught immorality and secularism by the forces of peer pressure, we have been taught foundational morality by our teachers’ words, and by the examples of the people we encountered on a daily basis.

Instead of ignorantly taking our blessings for granted, we have been educated enough to truly understand just how much God has given us.

Appreciation of blessings

And so, as I reflected on my time here at St. Ambrose, which really meant reflecting on the last seven years of my life, I came to truly appreciate these blessings.

It also became increasingly clear to me that because of these blessings, Luke 12:48 was a challenge for us. Because we are among those to whom much has been given, we must know that from us, much will be required.

For us, mediocrity is unacceptable. Because of our blessings, we are called to make a difference in the world by reaching the fullness of our potential in all areas.

But, just as the defining characteristic of our education here was our instruction in the faith, so the defining characteristic of our impact on the world must be holiness.

Fulfilling our potential

In our efforts to fulfill our potential, we cannot forget to work tirelessly to realize our spiritual potential, for we have -- thanks in large part to the formation we received here -- the foundation necessary for sainthood.

This will not be easy; it will require constant effort through what may be uninspiring circumstances and continuous focus in our often boring daily lives.

Yet we must persevere because this personal commitment to grow in holiness is, I believe, our obligation, and I know that it is what the world needs from us.

Furthermore, if we commit ourselves to this, there will be nothing more rewarding because, as St. Augustine put it, “to fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”

So I urge each and every one of you to strive to be all that God is calling us to be, because we owe the world, our families, ourselves, and God, nothing less.

And so, I feel compelled at this point to thank each and every one of you. You 10 have each contributed something unique and unrepeatable to this class and therefore to my experience here.

You have been, for me, in a real sense, the greatest blessing of being here at St. Ambrose, and while our time here together has come to an end, I hope and pray that we can live up to all that God has given to us and reach the very fullness of our potential.