Students of all ages are preparing for graduation right now. Graduation ceremonies are more than just an acknowledgment of academic achievements. These ceremonies close one life chapter and call us to turn the page to something new. For some, the next chapter is a bit familiar to the one before–elementary to junior high, junior high to high school. However, for those going from high school to college or undergrad to the “real world,” there is so much more that is unfamiliar. This season of change is not limited just to academic careers–it also marks growth, or maturity, in our spiritual lives. This is especially true for our teens and young adults.
This past weekend my social media feeds were filled with graduation photos from students at my church. My four years working in ministry took place in a Catholic parish and campus ministry. Day in and day out, I was surrounded by college students. I watched them develop academically, personally, and spiritually. I often found myself touched with envy as I did not have access to a campus ministry during my college years. As I scrolled through all the graduation photos bursting with pride, excitement, and love for these young Catholics, I couldn’t help but say a prayer that the faith I witnessed in them stays just as strong as they begin their next chapter.
Over the coming few weeks, I know my social media feeds will continue to be filled with graduation photos, except the graduates will be the children and teens of my parish. As a long-time parishioner in my church, I’ve seen some of them be baptized and receive other Sacraments. I’ve watched most of them participate in the Catechesis program, parish food drives, annual Rice Bowls, and other parts of parish life. My prayer for them will be the same as it is for the college graduates, with one addition. I pray that the high school grads will consider access to a vibrant campus ministry as they decide where to attend college.
Graduation season provides a great opportunity for parents and church staff alike to pause and consider graduates’ spiritual health and needs, regardless of where they are in their academic careers. It also presents us with an occasion to remind our graduates how incredibly important it is to live out our faith in every interval of our lives, to remind ourselves that our faith will see us through every juncture. In Joshua 1:9, we find the perfect words for this season–“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Kaitlin is a cradle Catholic and former pastoral staff member with the UNC Newman Catholic Student Center Parish. She understands the challenges our ministry partners face every day. 4 years of utilizing Realm to overcome those challenges inspired her to join the ACS Technologies family in 2020. As a Market Strategy Analyst for the Catholic market, she draws on her “church lady” experience to address our Catholic clients’ unique needs.