|Archbishop Allen Vigneron talks to the senior class at Everest Collegiate High School. (Photo by EC student Bradley Mansour.)|
Clarkston, Michigan -- “I’m 65 years old. Old people like
to give advice.”
These are the words of Detroit Archbishop Allen
Vigneron to the seniors of Everest Collegiate High School
in Clarkston, Michigan. The archbishop is taking a tour of
the Detroit-area Catholic high schools to impart to them a
bit of his wisdom before they move onto their life
He visited Everest Collegiate on March 25, 2014, saying
Mass for the teachers and high school students, and then
holding a special audience with the seniors scheduled to graduate
on May 18 of this year.
“For me, this is the
great privilege of being a priest,” he told the students.
“My job is to be a bit of a coach
to help you do your job more effectively, to participate
more fully. God wants your help.”
During his homily, using
the occasion of what he called the “Great Feast” of
the Annunciation, he reminded the students that they have been
created by God for a special purpose in life. But
they must choose to achieve that purpose.
“Every human being is
a center of choice. You are free. This is what
it means to be a human -- to be free,
to make choices.
“Our Lord invited Our Lady to her vocation,
and she said yes. It was a watershed moment. She
said yes, and everything has been different ever since. The
world is made new. Her creator became her child. She
became his protector. There was a union of two wills."
conformed her will to God’s, the Archbishop said, in the
same way that Jesus conformed His will to the Father’s.
He told the students that, by their presence at Mass,
they and all Catholics join themselves with Jesus in sacrificial
love to the Father.
“That is why you are here today
to make an offering of yourself in the Eucharist.
is to take you at your word. I believe you
freely want to make a gift of yourself to God
with Jesus. I become the instrument by which your Yes
is lifted up to the Father.
|Archbishop Allen Vigneron during the consecration, with Fr. Steve Pullis. (Photo by EC student Bradley Mansour.)|
“I know it isn’t easy.
It takes courage. It might be very difficult to say
yes to God. You might think you have a better
way. But God’s will is not without sacrifice. Love and
sacrifice go together. Ask yourself, when is your sacrifice worthwhile?”
Senior Class Audience
After Mass, when he was with the seniors,
he shared his own particular story of being called the
“I also wanted to be a farmer, but that didn’t
pan out,” he joked.
He said he had always been attracted,
from the very early age of 7, to the things
of the Catholic faith like Mass and the Eucharist.
going to Mass,” he said. “It meant a lot to
me. At each stage of my life, I continued to
He said he finally decided for the priesthood and
entered the seminary when he was 20 years of age,
but not without a period of struggle.
“1968 was a very
confusing time for the church and the country,” he said,
recalling the unrest during the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam
War, and what he called the “crazy ideas” ideas going
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to put up with all
that confusion,” he said. “There was a temptation to cowardice,
to take the easy way.”
But then he said he asked
himself, “If Christ was willing to go through hard times,
shouldn’t I be?"
"I stayed,” he said.
He gave some specific
suggestions to the seniors about what to do to stay
strong in their own faith after graduation.
“Your Catholic education has
helped to shape and direct your talents so you have
He urged the students to consider the question, “What
did God make me for? How am I going to
spend my life?”
“If you do what God made you for,
you will be very happy,” he assured them.
“There are so
many wonderful things to explore as you go off to
higher education. Know its goodness and thank God for it.”
told them not to let the world intimidate them. “Don’t
feel you have to be defensive about bringing your faith
to what you study. The Church has a rich history
of intellectualism. Our faith has resources to deal with any
question. There is truth. There is no conflict between [what
we choose for] our profession and being a Christian.”
told them very sharply, “Go to Mass!”
“Stay with it, for
your sake and for the church’s sake” he said. “You
have a lot to contribute. Don’t let your friend Jesus
When asked if they had any questions for him, one
young lady asked the Archbishop if he wanted them to
bring any of his prayer intentions with them on their
upcoming Senior Trip to the Holy Land during Holy Week.
|EC students perform the song "For Good" for the Archbishop.|
ask that you pray for more vocations in the archdiocese,”
he said. He specifically requested that they make their prayer
while in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, putting their
hands on the slab where the Lord’s body lay.
the audience, some of the Everest students, who will perform
in the upcoming Spring Musical, sang a special song for
the Archbishop, “For Good” from the Broadway show Wicked.
moved, the Archbishop said he felt another sermon coming on.
the mention of the demands of friendship in the lyrics,
he dovetailed his discussion of his priestly discernment struggle with
what goes on in all relationships, coming to the crossroads
of conflict and fighting.
“Then you either patch it up or
give up,” he said, and move toward “making a commitment.”
Relationships are at the heart of what it means to
be a human being, he said. “Friendship is unconditional because
of the gift of Christ.”
The Archbishop mentioned how the song
points out the possibility of separation in this life. He
assured his audience that they “will see one another again”
because of Christ. “Relationships have been preserved from the corrosion
of time and death.”
Time with the teachers
After the students departed
|With the Kindergarten students before Mass.|
for class, the Archbishop took some time to meet with
the high school teachers to encourage them and answer their
He quoted Socrates, who said teachers are “midwives to the
He suggested they work to make their students “self starters”
who can find the answers to the questions the world
will present to them. “Give them places to go for
He told them to challenge their students not to be
“tacit,” but to go forth with conviction and meet those
people who reject the truth with patience and love.
how they should help the students confront the inevitability of
suffering, the Archbishop said, “Even in suffering, there is the
joy of knowing God. There is joy that comes from
the Gospel, and in suffering for the Gospel.”