Abstract from Fr Malachy’s Homily – Graduation Mass – 2023
And so Cistercian College sends you forth, confident in your abilities. We confidently let you go, knowing that you have all the tools you need to both face with skill and courage, the challenges of life, and to represent your alma mater well.
I hope and pray that you leave Cistercian College as men of faith. This faith, which God offers us as a gift, has the capacity to change your life and the lives of those who encounter you in a remarkable way. Faith in God will get you through the darkest days of life, and only make brighter the very best of the days ahead of you. A life shaped and touched by Christ transforms into a life of true joy and lasting peace. This life is not necessarily easy to find, but it is more than worth the effort of the search. So what are you going to do? And far more importantly, who are you going to be? The lives you lead, the life you choose to lead, will be a reflection of many things, including your six years here at Cistercian College If we have succeeded in your education, in handing on to you the best we have to offer. Then we believe that you will walk in the right way, seeking the truth, and that you will truly live a good life expressing Cistercian values, remember how important it is to encourage one another – to look after our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing and that of others. Your time here has shown everyone I hope the importance of gratitude. To be ready and able to say thank you, to your parents, friends, and teachers all who imparted their knowledge, encouraged, supported, affirmed and gave you opportunities to grow and develop. I believe is an invaluable skill to have. Finally I say always have faith in the strength of prayer and always remember that we monks are here remembering all our past students in our prayers. That is why we need people like yourselves to communicate a message that is filled with hope, ambition in the healthy sense, people filled with and living out gospel values; people who are sensitive and caring of people. I will quote Pope Benedict XVI “the world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” You were made for greatness so go and be great. I will finish up with one more quote on friendship from Dostoyevsky the great Russian novelist. In the final chapter of his great novel, The Brothers Karamazov, the monk Alyosha, the good and gentle brother, says goodbye to a group of boys he has befriended and mentored. They are sad because they must part. In their sadness, Alyosha invites his young friends to remember: to remember always the days of their friendship and camaraderie. I ask you to remember always, he tells them. Because, he says in a memorable phrase, a good memory is the best education. We will leave each other and go our separate ways. Life will happen to us and change us, sometimes, not for the better. But, Alyosha adds, if life tempts us to become cynical or bitter or cruel, if we remember these golden days of our friendship, if we remember how we dreamed together, how we were kind to one another, how we were good, then maybe, just maybe, that memory will save us, and draw us away from the forces of darkness that are always threatening to vanquish and capture us.
“A good memory is the best education.” This then is the final wish of all of us here in Mount Saint Joseph Abbey and Cistercian College as we bid you farewell and Godspeed today. May you always remember the “joys and tears, the laughing years,” the friendships and dreams of your days at CCR. May these memories bring you joy, bring you salvation, take you back home. I wish you all every blessing, contentment and happiness as you graduate from CCR as the class of 2023. May God bless you always.