Fr. Tom, Mrs. Berquist, parents, families, teachers, consultants, friends of Mother of Divine Grace School, members of the Class of 2017. I am honored to have been chosen as this year's class speaker.
I would like to begin by thanking the many people who made this possible; not just this first-ever graduation ceremony, but those who made our education possible. First of all, Mrs. Berquist: you and your family had the courage to establish a classical Catholic curriculum and school. Because you saw a need and filled it, thousands of students now have the benefit of an orthodox Catholic education. Secondly, to our parents: you are the ones who chose to invest in an education that has formed us into the Catholic men and women we are today and which will continue to guide our decisions throughout our lives. The many days we spent doing school at home are memories that will remain with us forever. The teachers: who dedicated their time and talent to forming and educating us, the Class of 2017. Your knowledge and leadership has been invaluable. On behalf of the Class of 2017, I thank you and all those involved with Mother of Divine Grace School for your dedication to forming us into men and women of virtue.
To my fellow classmates: we come from across the country, and indeed, across the world. We come from California and Trinidad & Tobago; from Georgia and Ohio. We are from different families, and we all have different interests and hobbies, but what unites us is our education. As kindergartners, we learned Robert Louis Stevenson's poem At the Seaside. Before we began writing, we narrated Old Testament Bible stories to our moms. As we got older, we memorized the St. Crispin's Day Speech from Shakespeare. In Lit 12, we studied The Hound of Heaven together. We studied Ancient Rome and Greece and debated the merits of Sparta and Athens (go Athens!). Junior year of high school we explored medieval history, and we discovered the truth behind the Inquisition and the Crusades. Together we have navigated American History and read about the World Wars. We have read Polybius and Herodotus. We have studied St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings on law and government. We studied the Bible and the Catechism. From Saxon, we learned the secrets of algebra and synthetic division. From Henle, we learned Latin (but mostly we learned how to capture the Gauls!)
We are united through our education and through our shared experiences. On the ProBoards, we have discussed topics ranging from prayer requests to the Super Bowl. On the eve of the March for Life, hundreds of us have gathered and enjoyed dinner and dancing while getting to know each other in person. Through the Pope Leo the Thirteenth National Honor Society, we have strengthened our God-given leadership talents and exercised scholarship, service, and character. We have also laughed together over the phenomenon known as The CHRIS Show; that wonderful part of the NHS meeting where Chris tells us how it was back in his day. From white Christmas lights to reality TV shows, from obscure baby care items to airport food, it seems that things really were better back in his day. I'm sure the Mother of Divine Grace office will notify us all when The CHRIS Show comes out on CD, right? Through our Learning Support classes we have formed bonds with each other. We have the shared experience of our internet cutting out; we have laughed together over hilarious teachers and classmates; we have been taught to think critically and apply Catholic teaching to all subjects of study. It is through these experiences that we are united as one group of people, the Mother of Divine Grace Class of 2017.
We are all standing here, soon to be graduates of Mother of Divine Grace School, stepping out into the world. Pope Benedict the Sixteenth said, "It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church's Magisterium that sets us free." Mother of Divine Grace is a school which embodies this quote. It has provided us with a strong foundation. Through every class and every grade, Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church have been core components of our education. This is the education which will set us free. It is one which has trained our minds and hearts to the Divine, teaching us to live not for the things of this world, but for the things of the next. Our senior class quote from C.S. Lewis encourages us to "Shine so that through us, others can see Him." Our education is a unique one, designed to set us apart in a world which desperately needs the light of Christ. In the words of Pope St. John Paul the Second, "Humanity is in urgent need of the witness of free and courageous young people who dare to go against the tide and proclaim with vigor and enthusiasm their personal faith in God, Lord and Savior." My fellow graduates, let's meet the challenge issued by Pope St. John Paul the Second to be the free and courageous young people we are meant to be.