This week, we celebrate our graduates—their experiences, accomplishments and future endeavors as they seek to live in the world in order to sanctify and transform it, making Christ known to all.
By: Becky Boak, senior at John Paul the Great Catholic High School
In three months, I will pack up my things, fill the family car and head off to the College of William and Mary. Although the items that fill my car will be very similar to those that most other students roll onto campus with, I’ll carry with me a gift that most other students may not yet have been given—a gift I received from my parents and during my time at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School. Throughout my years at John Paul, my faith, friendships and knowledge have all developed to prepare me to face the challenges of college and of life thereafter.
In his 1987 visit to North America, Pope Saint John Paul II said to the laity: “You are being called by Christ to sanctify the world and transform it.” We may live in ordinary circumstances and take part in secular professions, but in whatever circumstances and professions, we must strive for greatness. We are called to be a part of the world which forms us. “It is within the everyday world that you, the laity, must bear witness to God’s Kingdom,” said the Pope Saint. We are called to be a part of the world in order to sanctify and transform it, making Christ known to all.
The role models I’ve found in my teachers, who live for Christ in the profession to which he has called them, gives me courage to do the same. My teachers have been examples of compassion, as they have sought to form their students. They live their Catholic faith with passion and zeal, remaining loyal, despite obstacles and challenges in their lives. They encourage us, their students, to do the same by setting high standards, and remain dedicated to helping us reach them.
Our school’s patron saints, whose statues line our hallways, provide another inspiration of faith that transforms the world. One saint whose statue I pass each school day is Saint Gianna Molla, my Confirmation saint. She is a great example of a woman who lived in ordinary circumstances as a doctor, wife and mother but who dedicated herself to Christ’s call to transform the world. She took her ordinary life and gave the world an extraordinary example of courage and love, sacrificing her life for the life of her unborn child, a testament to her pro-life beliefs.
My peers at John Paul are irreplaceable and inspiring. One way that this is manifested in our school is through the Options Program. The Options Program provides an opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities to attend school with typically developing students. The students in the program are incredible, and working with them as a peer mentor and in extracurricular activities at school was a heartwarming experience. Seeing the perseverance of the Options students through their struggles, and beholding the respect that is shown to them by all of their peers at John Paul, has given me a great example of what it means to treat everyone with respect.
What I most value about my years at John Paul is the bioethical training I received. My Bioethics classes taught me to think about and use reason when facing the most basic components of life, as well as some of the most complex and controversial issues of the modern era. In issues ranging from the human person to bioethical issues at the end of life, John Paul students become well-versed in bioethics and are able to examine and better understand the dignity of the human person, applying what they learn to all areas of their lives. It is not uncommon to hear a John Paul student referencing the Personalistic Norm in English or Science class. Bioethics classes are invaluable and the concepts and reasoning they taught me will surely be with me throughout my life, using them to educate our society and transform the world. I understand the supreme dignity of the human person and have seen this understanding exemplified in how John Paul teachers treat their students and how the students, in turn, treat each other.
Although this fall will be my first time attending a secular school, I’m ready to live and grow in the ordinary circumstances of college life. I will combine my circumstances and my experiences at John Paul to bring others to Christ and stand by my values. While I’ll live in the same dorms as other students, attend the same classes, and eat in the same dining halls, my hope is that I’ll plow my own path according to what is right. I plan to join the Catholic Campus Ministry and Students for Life groups so as to continue to grow in my faith as I was able to do in high school, and to form strong, faith-filled friendships. I will work for the sanctification of the world from within it, and demonstrate to the world the dignity of all human life by the way I live and how I treat others. I am equipped for college because of the preparation I have received at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School, a gift I cherish and plan to share with others in order to, as Pope Saint John Paul says, “sanctify the world and transform it.”
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