After dropping their school and personal items in their lockers and classrooms, the students and faculty assembled in the chapel for the opening-of-school Convocation. The Executive Council invited each grade into the school year with a specific quote and prayer.
We prayed for the ninth graders as they embark on this year open to new friendships. Through St. Catherine’s words, “What made you establish [woman] in so great a dignity? Certainly, the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself!”, they were invited to meet new friends and to see Jesus in everyone whom they meet, and to remember that “in every face is the face of God and every person is respected and loved by God.”
We prayed for the tenth graders as they grow in love of self, others, and God. Through St. Catherine’s words, “Everything comes from love. All is ordained for the salvation of man. God does nothing without this goal in mind.”, they were invited to grow in their understanding that God loves them and to pray that their accomplishments this year reflect God’s love for them, leading them closer to heaven.
We prayed that our eleventh graders receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that “All should be my minister in distributing the graces and gifts they are given.” We prayed over the juniors that they use the tools and gifts of their faith to serve as leaders and upperclassmen so that their school year reflects the love of God through their words, actions, and achievements.
And finally, for our twelfth graders, we prayed for the strength of faith, so that they may “Proclaim the truth and [do] not be silent through fear.” May their senior year be a beacon of everything they learned at St. Catherine of Siena. May our patroness guide them to be bold, stand up for their faith, and show the world who they are. May their final year at St. Catherine of Siena give you the tools to set the world on fire and leave your mark on the world.
At the conclusion of the prayer, Ms. Hehs invited the students to join their faculty in The Butterfly Challenge, adapted from a story on the internet. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the struggles we find in our lives are exactly what we need to become strong and successful people, as God intended us to be, created in His image.
As adults, we have cultivated the traits of strength, courage, wisdom, prosperity, love, and favors because we were nurtured, mentored, and guided – choose your word – to develop these traits. In the lives of your daughters, our students, we are the strength, courage, wisdom, prosperity, love, and favors that they need, right now in their lives, as we see God’s story unfold.
The challenge presented to the faculty and shared with the students to begin this year, was to embrace the difficulties they encounter, the obstacles they need to overcome, and the problems they need to solve, realizing that God has given them brains and brawn, the gift of empathy, and a world of opportunities to bring them to the Truth. Now you, their parents, are invited to guide and mentor your daughters to develop these traits, and not to shelter them from the struggle, not to absorb their pain, and not to “fix” the situation. Like the butterfly, we are all reminded to let the process unfold on its own terms and timeline. And as parents, you have a significant role in this.
Vikas Runwal, a spiritual healer from India says, “Rise to the challenges that life presents you. You can’t develop genuine character and ability sidestepping adversity and struggle.”
And in Psalm 37:23-24, we are told “the valiant one whose steps are guided by the Lord, who will delight in his way, May stumble, but he will never fall, for the Lord holds his hand.”
Let us all be guided by the Lord as we move through this new school year.