Bishop Kevin celebrates Mass with students and staff of St Aloysius’ College
Bishop Kevin celebrated Mass with the students and staff of St Aloysius’ College, Athlone on Monday 15th May 2017, to mark the end of the school year.
“We have arrived at the end of another school year”, Bishop Kevin said, “and I am very conscious that this is a time of significant change. I wanted to come here to be with you today, because St. Aloysius’ College has been part of the story of the Diocese of Elphin for many years now, and the Diocese has been part of the story of the College. It is good for us to be here together to give thanks to God for all his blessings”.
Bishop Kevin went on to speak of how he had experienced change in his own life, both as a challenge and as an opportunity. “I spent thirteen years in the same school, starting out as an infant and leaving as a young man. The school changed quite a lot over those years and so did I, but when I looked in the mirror, it was always the same face that looked back at me. During my studies for the priesthood and during my forty years as a priest, I experienced quite a lot of change. Every now and then, often unexpectedly, my bishop would ask me to go somewhere new and take on some different responsibility. I didn’t always feel enthusiastic about the idea of change, but I have discovered over the years that change was good for me. It gave me the chance to start fresh, it shook me up a bit if I had grown too comfortable and it helped me to discover new gifts and to develop them” .
One of the early Greek philosophers, Parmenides, was particularly interested in change. He wondered ‘how is change possible?’ And he came to the conclusion that it is only possible because there is always something that remains the same. That has been my experience. I am still the same person that I was. My family and my close friends still love me. Most important of all, for me, was discovering that the love of God remains constant, even when I make a mess of something. His love gives me solid ground on which to stand, even when the challenges sometimes seem too great.
As you prepare to move to the new campus in Summerhill, or indeed to move out into the world of third level or employment, it is only to be expected that you would feel a bit apprehensive. Change is challenging. It will take a while to find your way around; there will be new people to meet and new names to remember. But I would suggest that you look in the mirror from time to time and you will find, as I did, that you are still the same person. Your teachers will still be there and they will still care, just as they do now. Your family will not be gone away and you will still have your friends around you. In our first reading, St. Paul encourages us not to be anxious but rather to be joyful. That is because God’s love for you will not change.
I want to take this opportunity to thank God for all the blessings he has given us down through the years in St. Aloysius’ College and to ask his blessing as we go forward from here. I would also like to thank you – all of you – for all that you have done, especially over the past year, to prepare for the next stage of the journey. The Diocese will walk this journey with you and I look forward to seeing you all again after the Summer.
Just one last thought; I have noticed in this space where we have gathered for prayer that there are many photographs of past students, representing their various achievements. There is a video display encouraging you to consider your future life choices. Up here with me I am happy to have Fr. Michael Duignan and Fr. Ray Milton, both of whom are past pupils of the College and who are now making an important contribution to the mission of the Diocese of Elphin. Some of you here present may feel, now or in the future, that God may be giving you a poke in the direction of priesthood. It is not everybody’s call by any means, but I would encourage you not to dismiss it too quickly. I have found it fulfilling and challenging. I have been able in some small way at least to support other people on their own life journey, while finding a real purpose in my own life.