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Called to be the best version of ourselves

Archbishop Wenski's remarks at dedication of Cristo Rey High School

Archbishop Thomas Wenski delivered these remarks at the dedication of the new Cristo Rey Miami High School in North Miami, Sept. 15, 2022.

Catholic schools serve the mission of the Church — and the Church’s mission is to share the good news of Jesus Christ. True God and true man, Jesus reveals to us the human face of God and the divine face of man.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski blesses the new altar at Cristo Rey High School in North Miami, Sept. 15, 2022. David Lawrence, a founding member of the school's board of trustees, donated the altar in honor of his wife, Roberta.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski blesses the new altar at Cristo Rey High School in North Miami, Sept. 15, 2022. David Lawrence, a founding member of the school's board of trustees, donated the altar in honor of his wife, Roberta.

Catholic schools serve the mission of the Church because they seek to educate the whole person — and that is why evangelization and integral human development is intertwined in the task of education. The altar which we bless today is where the sacrifice of the Mass is offered. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian lives as Catholics. We were baptized so that we could receive Holy Communion and that Communion in His Body and Blood is a foretaste, an anticipation, if you will, of our Communion with him that we hope will be ours in heaven.

Catholic schools, of course, demand academic excellence. This is the hallmark of a Catholic education because Catholic education is intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person — mind, body, and spirit.

Some of you may remember those old Perry Mason shows, or Matlock. In these courtroom TV dramas, a witness is called to testify, and he or she swears to tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth – “so help me God.”

How can anybody say that he or she is educating someone about the truth — and yet NOT to be able to speak about God? The history of these United States would be incomprehensible without acknowledging the role of faith, the role of religion, in its foundation as well as in its foundational documents. How can anyone say that he or she is educating someone about the truth, if they cannot teach that we exist not only for this life — but also for the next? Not to know that we were created for eternity is to be as ignorant as not knowing how to multiply fractions. In Catholic schools we can and do teach both well.

And today — more than ever — our world needs to encounter truth. The world needs to know that truth is knowable. The world needs to know its demands and to know that its demands are reasonable. Without truth there is no freedom; and without truth, there is no hope.

And this is what a Catholic education can offer our youth — an education founded on truth — which, if we’re honest, is available few places else. For today, our society is characterized by a crisis of anthropology — the understanding of man — because of the sway of ideologies which offer a reductive and therefore diminished understanding of the human person. Where else but in a Catholic school can you speak the whole truth about God, and the whole truth about man.

But let’s us be clear. No one is an accident; everyone is the result of a thought from God, everyone is necessary. In other words, if you are here taking up space on this planet, it is because God wants you to be here. He created you for a reason, he created you for a purpose.

The students’ being here at a Cristo Rey School has something to do with that reason, with that purpose. We, and mostly likely their grandparents, might ask them: What do you want to be when you grow up? So, what are your plans? What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to be when you grow up?

We want our Cristo Rey students to ask those questions – but to ask them from a different perspective. Instead of asking, what are my plans; what do I want to do; we want them to ask instead: What is God’s plan for my life? What does he want me to do with my life?

We find a general outline of God’s plan for us in Jesus’ words to his disciples: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13: 34) God’s plan is for us to love as Jesus did. To work out the details, to learn how God wishes you to shape that future, to overcome one’s own hesitancy or fears, requires the same discipline needed to excel in a language or a sport. It also requires that you spend some time talking and listening to Jesus as he walks with you along your way.

God calls each one of us to a future of love. To give your very self as a gift to God and to your brothers and sisters, as Jesus did when he died for us on the cross, is the way to true joy and happiness. This is not an easy way; but it is the way, God’s way.

Loving in this way is like learning to speak a new language well or play a new sport.

Before we can speak a new language well, we have to learn the grammar. Grammar might seem to be all about rules and regulations. And to love like Jesus means learning the rules and regulations about self-control, purity of heart and mind; it is about learning how to deny oneself, to respect others, to serve instead of being served. And as we learn the grammar, we have to practice, practice, practice...

It’s the same way in learning a new sport. We all have celebrated Venus Williams and her sister, Serena. Venus is a GOAT – greatest of all time – in tennis. But that did not mean that she could ignore the rules and regulations of the game. In fact, knowing and keeping the rules make it easier, not harder, to play the game. Obeying the commandments – with the help of God’s grace gained through constant prayer and a lot of practice – makes love possible and makes life an exciting adventure.

We are called to be the best version of ourselves, that version of ourselves that God wants us to be. God wants these students to be here. He created them for a reason, he created them for a purpose. And being here at a Cristo Rey School has something to do with that reason, with that purpose.