In a series of his recent writings and homilies, Pope Francis reminds us that the history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning. We all remember such places, and revisiting those memories does us much good. So it is that many of our parishioners, who have grown up in this parish, and attended its school, recall the memories they have of their experiences here, both joyful and sorrowful, and remember those who have touched their lives and nourished their faith in this church. Most especially, our St. Vincent Ferrer School has been the backbone and support of parents whose first duty toward their children is to bring them up in the Faith. Families flourish in the Faith and in life because of taking advantage of such a solid educational foundation.
Now we see the new addition to our school that will accommodate some more students in the upcoming years. It was certainly needed, based on projections gathered from preliminary studies. It’s a beautiful edifice that draws upon the tradition of the past existing building (in architectural style) and blends in the new with the old (which is being refurbished to complement the new).
From this school, many have gone forward into the world motivated by the best Catholic-Christian principles of putting Faith into action. Their numerous achievements exemplify the best preparation a Catholic school can give. Some others have gone out into the world, but haven’t flourished in the way they could, simply because they didn’t make the effort to learn how to use God’s gifts in ways that benefit them. Because of different life experiences, they even may have given up on God (though He never gives up on them), drifting away from the solid foundation given them in our school. We shouldn’t be wholly discouraged if some of our family and some friends have strayed from the Church. If it seems they are far from the Lord, there is always hope they will yield to the strength of Christ’s love. Because the seed was planted and nurtured in Catholic settings, we can pray and hope that someday they will come back to the Lord.
Saint Augustine of Hippo is not unlike many of those we encounter every day. As a young man, Saint Augustine had a keen and bright intellect combined with a desire to know the truth. In this, he is not unlike many young men and women today. Despite this love for truth, however, Augustine fell into serious errors. It is well known that his conversion took a wholly individual path, because it was not a case of arriving for the first time at the Catholic faith, but of rediscovering it. He had lost it, but was convinced that he was abandoning only the Church, not Christ. Does that sound familiar to you? He re-connected with God, and came to experience Him to the point that it changes the lives of everyone, who in every age, have the grace to encounter Him.
For Augustine, this conversion spanned more than two decades, before he humbled himself before the Lord. Through persistent pleading, prayers, and tears of his devout mother, St. Monica, he encountered Jesus and was never the same again. He returned to the faith he received from his mother. He allowed the totality of his life to be converted to the Lord and become one of the greatest witnesses and teachers of the Christian life.
We need to keep in mind his example and the patient prayers of his mother, Saint Monica, as we seek to bring back to the Church and back to the practice of the Catholic Faith those who have strayed from Our Lord’s path. Make the effort to participate in every way possible to help build a culture of growth, where believers make a very intentional decision to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, out of which flows the commitment to live a stewardship way of life. This is what our school does – what every good Catholic school tries to do.
So, if you haven’t yet supported our school’s growth for the future, now may be the time to reconsider your own commitment to our parish, our Faith and our God. It’s never too late to support our efforts, for we want to form our students in the best way possible for their future – on earth and in heaven!