On the Twentieth Anniversary of the Founding of Our Lady of the Hills
Regional Catholic College Preparatory High School
The Memorial of St. Bernard, August 20, 2022
Blessings and greetings to everyone! It truly is a great joy for me to be with you today as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Our Lady of the Hills Regional Catholic College Preparatory High School, or as otherwise known, the crib of the Hawks!
I greet first the students here at our school. You are the very reason that we are here. We consider you God’s blessing to us. Each of you has been graced by God to accomplish much and to praise His name for the rest of your lives. We are here to assist on both matters.
There are many words and ideas that I hope you students remember of today; however, near the top of that list is that you remember the beautiful sacrifices and prayers that were offered by those who sought the development of our school, fought to bring it to fruition, and wrought the efforts necessary to cause OLH to be born. They did it for you. Not one of them did it to be praised. They are gifts to us all.
I thank our principal, Ms. Collins, and those who work with you, for the invitation to be here today. I welcome the present Board of Trustees, and those who have served with this important group in the years past. I welcome our former principal and my friend, Therese Schwartz, with joy. I greet the present teachers and former teachers who have earned well deserved praise for the service they bring to our students.
The generous benefactors of our school are also to be praised and thanked. Your gifts fuel the engine of faithfulness that we seek to offer our God and each other.
We are celebrating our school’s anniversary on the feast of St. Bernard, Abbot. He has been one of my heroes for a long while. In my office, during my entire life as priest and bishop, I have had a wood-burned plaque which reads in Latin: “AD QUID VENISTI.” It is properly translated as “Why have you come?” of “Why are you here?” Recall these words were spoken in the Scriptures by Jesus when he was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.
St. Bernard used these words for personal reflection regarding why he would enter a monastery and leave the normal world. He would then also use the phrase when leading the monks who would enter his monastery after he himself became the Abbot or Father of the community later in his life.
I have used the words on many occasions to assist folks to assess their own situations. It is a good question for us. Why have we come here?
Ben Sirach in our first reading would suggest that our reason for being here is the quest for Wisdom. He describes the attitudes of those who find wisdom, and those who will never attain wisdom. His primary indicator of the correct attitude is this: “The one who holds to faith in God’s Word will obtain wisdom.” That is, they will know the plan that God has for each of them, a life that will bring joy and happiness.
Wisdom, the plan of God, like a good mom or dad, takes care of the person, the believer, providing what is necessary and essential for joyful living.
In the Gospel we find Jesus praying to his Father before his upcoming crucifixion. His principle desire is the unity between Himself and the Father, between Himself and the disciples. Unity with God and to God is the only path to the faithful success of any of our institutions, including OLH.
So, I would like to use this opportunity to summarize once again why our school exists, our common purpose for Catholic education.
- Catholic schools provide a “space for grace” and allows faith in God to proper in everything we do. With our faith fully integrated throughout the school day, the educational experience is different from any other educational experience in that our youth are called to understand what it means to be son or daughter to God and that they are called to their own vocation.
- We focus on the development and growth of the whole person, individually, i.e., intellectually, spiritually, physically, socially, and emotionally. Each aspect of the person deserves our attention.
- We are school where parents can feel safe in the shared values being taught to their youth. With the prevalent concern nationally about what content is being taught to our youth, especially with so many human sexuality issues present, parents can expect that our teachings will align with their faith.
- Catholic schools place Christ at the center of all we do and, as such, require us to maintain a culture that is consistent with Christian teachings.
- Catholic school are calling us to a koinonia, as the Gospel calls it, a partnership, a community which has determined its common values, where parents are called upon to be actively engaged in the formation of their youth, academically and spiritually, and to be engaged on a deeper level of parent engagement within the community for the good of the school, that is, fundraising, service, and student activities.
- We are a Catholic school when we live as though faithfulness will lead to success.
Therefore, my friends, let us continue this liturgy of thankfulness and be certain that Jesus Christ is in our midst as the pilgrimage of this school year, and this Catholic School, continue.