By Angelle Hall
As the spring semester comes to a close and the Class of 2019 graduates, I cannot help but think of one of my favorite verses from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians:
I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-8)
The Lord has showered us with blessings this year, with our newest and returning students finding their way to a closer relationship with Jesus and the community through our Welcome Week events, our Freshmen Overnight and Awakenings retreats, and many Bible studies. Students went to Ecuador and on a Civil Rights Pilgrimage over spring break. Our weekly Ephesians 3 fellowship gave us the opportunity to encounter Christ through music, talks, and Adoration. Most importantly, Christ met us in the Eucharist through many beautiful Masses and Holy Hours.
I am especially grateful to our graduating seniors who have not only shared their faith, their gifts, and their very lives through many ministries here at Newman, but also on their respective campuses and in the greater community. It is why this prayer from Philippians resounds so strongly, as we have become partners in sharing the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. It is a tremendous privilege to remember conversations and prayers from earlier years about how the Lord might be calling them and to now see them responding so deeply to those calls. I know that the Lord will continue to complete these good works in them.
Our community must say “See You Later!” to two of our FOCUS missionaries: Karianne Bolduc and Connor Evans. Connor is completing his two-year commitment to FOCUS, and Karianne will become an international missionary with FOCUS. Karianne was on our first FOCUS team in 2014 and became our Team Director in 2016. We are also grateful for Fr. Reginald’s guidance and teaching. We will miss them all but will continue to hold them in our hearts.
Whether we are graduating, returning, or staying more permanently in Columbia, staying close to Jesus is always a good next step. When students (or friends) share that they are in transition, I find attention in these four areas to be a helpful guide.
Daily Prayer: Pray every day, even if for 5-10 minutes.
Frequent Sacraments: Sunday Mass, Reconciliation, and daily Mass, if possible.
Community: Have at least one to two friends that you can talk to, that really know your heart and can remind you that you are a beloved daughter/beloved son of God. A greater community is even better. It can often be so easy to hide from everyone; find at least one friend or family member that can really know what’s going on in your life. You don’t have to suffer alone. Our staff is also here if you need to talk.
Service: Our lives are meant to be a gift to others! As I remember Mrs. Xernona Clayton say on our spring break trip: “You can’t do everything. Just look around, and do something.” Service can be so many different things, and there are many opportunities right here at Newman. There are usually opportunities right in our neighborhoods, families, and friends. Dr. Ed Hahnenberg, who has written many books about finding your vocation, advises going to Church in the same place and doing service in the same place for a year.
Newman will always be your home, and we hope you will come back to visit. With gratitude to the Lord, know that St. Paul captures my heart perfectly: And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)