Welcome Mass Homily, Fall 2012

To all you new students, I welcome you to Saint Mary’s and here is your first pop quiz: It isn’t hard, just a simple multiple-choice test. … You are here today because:

A) You chose to come to Saint Mary’s college?


B) You   were you chosen to come to Saint Mary’s College? 

Well, this is a trick question, because the answer is C) “All of the above”!  

In today’s scripture readings we hear of two young people, Jeremiah and the Virgin Mary.  Do you remember what Jeremiah says in response to his being chosen? He argues with the Lord, saying that he is too young, and he was very young. … Both he and Mary were younger than most of you who are college freshmen! Mary also questions the angel about her being chosen to be Mother of the Savior. The angel tells her not to be afraid, yet she was greatly troubled and afraid. But ultimately both Jeremiah and Mary choose to be chosen. … They say “yes” to their call. But this “yes”  comes through a conversation …

Today, like Mary and Jeremiah, you are entering a great conversation, here at Saint Mary’s College community, one that began 150 years ago!!

You choose to come to a Catholic, Lasallian, Liberal Arts College and you were chosen to come to a Catholic, Lasallian, Liberal Arts College.

This afternoon I will share a few thoughts about our Catholic identity; Molly Allen of the Class of 2013 will share some thoughts about our Lasallian identity. Dr. Charles Hilken, Christian Brother, professor of history and a resident director will share thoughts about our liberal arts tradition.

So, what can be said about our Catholic identity in just a few minutes? 

For the past 18 years here, I have had the privilege of celebrating the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist with members of our College community. They entered the Catholic Church by making baptismal promises. These promises are the core of our Catholic faith and we proclaim them every Sunday, sometimes as vows, other times through the Nicean or Apostles’ Creed. But these words become flesh in three principle ways: Community, Word, and Sacrament. 

What does it mean to be “community” here at Saint Mary’s? Well, if you think about it you are already part of many communities. First of all your family and those with whom you  pray, study and recreate. You are forming new communities as a  class  and residence hall. There will be many new communities in the form of campus clubs and organizations you will join here on campus. Perhaps in the future you will one day be part of our Mission and Ministry intentional communities: the Lasallian community for sophomores, or Santiago community for juniors and seniors. There you can live, pray and serve together.

So,  I propose that we live our catholic, “universal” faith best when we appreciate and celebrate all of this diversity, while remembering we are one community,  the community of the human family, made in the image and likeness of God.

We are also people of the Word. For Christians, the Scriptures reveal our loving God, our Savior and the power of the Holy Spirit. But it is more than a collection of stories; it is mean to be a living Word. As Saint Francis of Assisi would say: preach the gospel, and if necessary use words.  So think of the words you hear and the words you speak. … Do they help us to remember that we are in the ‘holy presence of God’?  Do they make present Jesus who is the Incarnate Word?

And we are a sacramental people. As Catholics we believe that a sacrament is a visible sign that makes present our invisible God. Jesus then is THE SACRAMENT, and we who are baptized are chosen to be His body on Earth. So now we are called to be sacraments for each other. We are to make present the God of love, mercy and compassion. Here at Saint Mary’s we will have many opportunities to both celebrate and become sacraments. It is most appropriate that you are here beginning your journey with the celebration of the Eucharist, and hopefully we will all gather here the night before your graduation! But in between these two times, I hope you will find your way to the Chapel for our 8 o’clock Sunday mass … that is p.m. not a.m.!!

Welcome to our Catholic College…thank you for choosing us…and as you journey with us always remember God has chosen you!

Father Salvatore Ragusa, Assistant Director for Liturgy and Prayer
August 23, 2012