Homily of Bishop Kevin Doran at Mass for St Angela’s College Graduation 2018
Since you were a child, even without knowing it, you have worked for this day. You have been supported by parents, teachers and others who love you. In more recent years, as you chose the path to a course at St Angela’s, you have been more focused. What motivated you? Was it the parchment, the need to succeed, the job prospects, or was there something else as well; something of the vision of who you could be, even who you were called to be as a person?
We celebrate our Mass on the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (or what we used to call All Souls Day). Initially it seemed a strange day to be having it. On reflection, however, it strikes me that it may be a good day to celebrate a graduation. Just as those who have died have “graduated” from this earthly life, you in your own way could be described as the “faithful departed”. You carried out faithfully the work that was assigned to you – and now you have moved on. There may be a tinge of sadness, even a certain apprehension about the future. All of that is normal.
Life is full of “departing” and “moving on”; letting go, so that we can respond to the call of our hearts, to the needs of others and, indeed to the call of God. The question for today and tomorrow is the same as the question for yesterday. What will motivate you?
Our Gospel about the ten bridesmaids needs a little unpacking. It seems unkind and even churlish that the five who had oil for their lamps would not share it. But then it is not really about oil. The lamp is a symbol for the “yes” that we give to “the bridegroom” – to Jesus Christ (to God). We can encourage one another, but each one can only give a commitment of faith for herself or himself. As you start out on the next stage of your journey, that is the invitation to you that I see in God’s Word today.
Many of you are teachers or nurses. Why? I suppose it has always been challenging to find the right path in the world amidst all the voices and all the mixed messages. We think of teachers as people who are committed to ideas and to truth and leading others to truth, but today our culture sometimes seems to be more interested in ideologies. We think of nurses as people who bring healing and serve life, but today our culture is ambivalent about that. So what motivates you to remain “faithful” to what you are called to be. As we read in Sacred Scripture,” it is the love of Christ that urges us on”. Stay close to him, contemplate his word and, when your life’s work is done, you will graduate with the highest honours.
Bishop Kevin Doran
2nd November 2018
St John’s Church, Carraroe, Sligo