“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!” Our visit to the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church Portsmouth, Ohio was a beautiful service of Baccalaureate Mass for the Notre Dame Class of 2017!
After the “wow” of being in such an ornate church the service began. Portsmouth Holy Redeemer Church was founded as a local Catholic Church in 1842. The cornerstone for this historic church was laid in 1905. In 1852 the Columbus Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church formed the Holy Redeemer School which today is known as Notre Dame. Possibly the smallest graduating class in a Scioto County School, 24 students participated in this program and the graduation weekend. Though schools generally hold a Baccalaureate program I am not aware of them being conducted in a church.
It is amazing that the architecture of 1905 would be so grand. But believing is seeing and what we saw there is what it is but more importantly than that was the beautiful service we witnessed for the graduating class of 2017.
The church message was presented by Priest Joe Yocum and his words will long be remembered by the students of Notre Dame. To help that out we secured his message that it may be found and held by these students and their families.
Here we go!
The priests who have served Scioto County since the establishment of Catholic Schools in our area, have been deeply committed to supporting the proclamation of the Gospel.
The church has always desired to support our children and parents as mandated by the Second Vatican Council. Holy Mother Church must be concerned with the whole of man’s life, even the secular part of it in so far as it has a bearing on his heavenly calling. Therefore she has a role in the progress and development of education.”
Today, more than ever, Catholic Education remains critically important in the formation of human persons by teaching our young people how to live well now, so as to be able to live with God for all eternity.
The Church also believes that Catholic Education addresses the development of the whole person through spiritual and academic formation based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so the faith taught in the classroom is not meant only for the religion teachers, but spills over into the other subjects in which it necessarily informs it of the truth. The mission of Catholic education provides a particular environment for evangelism in and out of the classroom, on and off the court and the field.
Notre Dame’s goal has been to both serve both the faith community and community of Scioto County by educating our children and young people to contribute to the common good of our society by becoming active and caring members of the world in which they live
And so my dear young people, as you graduate from this fine academic institution and faith-filled learning environment you will be pressed into and absorbed by the current affairs of society. You will be called upon to take greater responsibility for your life and the future that lies ahead. Remember that it is the presence of Jesus Christ in and through his Church that gives the human story it’s true meaning and propels it’s fundamental performance. All things hinge on Jesus Christ, because he alone holds the key to communion with God, and only he can satisfy the human heart.
There is great evidence around us that he continues to intervene in our world. One of the most eloquent signs of his ongoing love for us is the continued flow of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Just as Jesus called his apostles to leave everything and follow him two thousand years ago, so he continues to call men and women today. Each and every vocation fulfilled is a sign to us of his Lordship, the proof that Jesus still reigns, whether that is in the priesthood or consecrated life, or in and through the vocation of marriage and family life.
And which ever vocation you feel the Lord calling you to, you have a responsibility to heed the words of Jesus. The Gospel today, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel”.
The “Kingdom of God” merely refers to the place wherever things are done God’s way, wherever his will and heart infuse life into souls of men and women.
“To repent” means to turn away from doing things our own selfish way.
“To believe in the Gospel” means to trust that God’s way, God’s will is the best choice.
If we trust in his love, wisdom and power, we will have courage to fashion our lives according to his standards. And when we come to recognize our own limitations we will have the humility to repent. If we want to enter his kingdom and share in unequaled life and meaning, we simply need to trust in God more than we trust in ourselves — over and over again. No matter how many times we need to repent, no matter how many times we need to start over he offers us the chance to begin again.
It is so easy to lose sight of the activity of Jesus in our lives because he exercises his authority ever so gently. We all know and have learned , whether you have been at Notre Dame one year or twelve years, that everything hinges on Jesus. And yet, we still get ourselves worried and angry. We allow ourselves to be perturbed by minute.
And so we pray that Jesus will increase your faith, strengthen your hope and enlighten your minds.
We pray that Jesus will make you convinced that you are his disciples, ready to serve and follow him more closely every day.
Help us all to see Jesus, that he didn’t hesitate to invite the disciples to leave behind their plans, their families and careers for the mission that they were called to do.
We pray that these young people will be open to the mission and direction they desire for their lives, so that they live with the ultimate desire to build up God’s Kingdom at hand! (End of message)
Did I mention that our second grandson Ethan was a graduate of the 2017 graduating class. To he and each other graduate Beverly and I wish them the best in joining the community of life and the community of faith in Scioto County Ohio.
Our weekend included two church visits but the project will be long. Many think Beverly, I and our friends, Chris and Stephanie Neff are searching for a new church family. This is not the case! We are looking at the spirit of the people who practice a variety of religious faiths. We are looking at the architecture or even simplicity of construction. We love the history all around us. We love finding old friends and making new ones. Our journey is still on the short side. Be patient with us as we bounce around seeking out the churches and the wonderful people who worship within. The day we walk in your door, your church will become our church for that day. As believers let us share the Good News of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World. Each one, reach one. For a pictorial review of this church see medium.com/randy rucker. God bless us, everyone! See ya in church!