Bishop David Ricken, Co-Founder of Wyoming Catholic College and myself

Wyoming Catholic College Baccalaureate Mass

My dear friends, for many reasons, it is good to be here! 

 Knowing that we are here to celebrate a rather historic moment in the life of this Wyoming Catholic College, and more specifically, the lives of our graduates, I cannot help but wonder where God will continue to lead our graduates, and what God has in store for this Wyoming Catholic College…  But, for good reason, the Lord does not seek to share things of the future with us, rather, he calls us to trust in Him, and focus all our effort and energy in faithfully serving Him, His church, and His people.

In our first reading this evening, we hear the very selection from the Prophet Isaiah chosen by Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry.  In many ways, our graduates now stand at the threshold of their “public ministry”.  Even though some will go on to further studies, all will now begin to take what they have learned here in “God’s Country” and apply these lessons to building something of their own lives, which, please God, will be the work of furthering God’s Kingdom.

 So, dear graduates, what does God’s WORD have to tell us this evening?

 First of all, the spirit of the LORD that was upon Isaiah, and upon Jesus, is also within you.  Each of you is anointed with this Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation.  In this Easter Season, we recall that the very life of the Risen LORD is at work in us.  This is the Spirit leading and guiding you through faith, and it is this faith, as St. Paul tells us in the Second Reading this evening, that grants us the grace in which we stand.  (Romans 5:1-2, 5-8)  St. Paul in this Letter to the Romans also tells us that is through this same Spirit that the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.  It is this same Spirit proclaimed by the Psalmist who renews the face of the earth (Psalm 104)

It is this Spirit of God, vivifying the Life of Christ within us, that we may courageously live our life as a proclamation of the Gospel. In many ways, it is this Spirit of courage that led you here to Lander, to be a part of the beginning of this great new adventure in Catholic education.  And now, dear graduates, in this time of the Church, this time in which you set your sails for the future; acknowledge that this is the time of the new evangelization.   This is the time when we are to re-proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.  This is the time when many Christians and Catholics are embarrassed or hesitant to speak the name of Jesus.  St. Peter reminds us that there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.  (Acts 4:12)

I propose to you, graduates that among all the things you have received and learned in your time here, nothing is more important or urgent than this truth.  During your time here, I am sure you have grown in self-awareness and self-confidence; you have grown in knowledge and in wisdom; you have grown in your love for the Church and even your hopes for the future.  But above all, it is your knowledge of the faith, your knowledge of Christ, and your ability to credibly and lovingly proclaim Christ to the world, through integrity, compassion, service, and yes, the words you speak, that is most important.

 Our Church and world today need your witness of faith.  We need the joyful expression of your loving relationship with Christ.  Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today of His abiding presence, and it is in this presence that true life is lived: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”  (John 14: 23-26)  As the mature Christian learns to live in this Presence of Christ, to move continually in and from this Life of Christ, then his or her life is a blessing to the world and society, as the Prophet Isaiah tells us. 

A life lived in and for Christ is the only way to bring the oil of gladness, healing and comfort to others.  It is our life lived in faith, lived in and for Christ that brings hope and joy to the listless spirit of our world.  When we faithfully live our Christian life and vocation, it is then that we, and those we bring to Christ, are called oaks of justice, planted by the Lord to show his glory.  (Isaiah 61: 3) 

The hope of this Wyoming Catholic College is that you, who are descendants of this faith, will live renowned lives.  You now go forth as the first descendants of this Wyoming Catholic College, and through faith, as heirs to the Kingdom.  May you be renowned above all for your faith, but also for your love and service of God’s people.  May you also be renowned for the contributions you bring to each of your chosen fields of labor.  May you always be acknowledged for your faith and good works and glorify God with the dignity and integrity of your lives. 

As Christ was sent by the Father into the world, to be the face and revelation of God to His people, so now Christ, along with this entire Wyoming Catholic College community, sends each of you into the world for the same purpose.  You are capable and prepared for this wonderful work, not only because of the formation you have received here, but especially because of Christ’s promise in today’s Gospel:  The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.  (John 14:26) 

My dear friends thank you for your presence with us these past four years.  Thank you for the gift of you, and the joy and faith you so generously shared with us, and for helping establish what will, Please God, be a lasting legacy for years to come.

As each of you has been a blessing to this College during its early years, we are sure you will be a blessing to the world and society you now enter, because we are sure that you enter this world and society as Christ-bearers, and there can be no greater blessing in this life.  Please know you go forth with our blessing, but above all, with God’s!