My brief address to the students and parents at our annual Baccalaureate Mass.
I asked you at the beginning of this year to “be a pilgrim”—to be a disciple of wonder, to anticipate the sacred, to be open to a metanoia—a conversion. All pilgrimages have stations where you stop and gather before continuing—this is one of those stops. The pilgrimage will go on but you—actually all of us—will soon be traveling in different company.
You cross significant thresholds in a short amount of time—Baccalaureate Mass, Graduation, college orientation, etc., and continue on your pilgrimage. Before we leave this way-station I have some advice for students and parents. A friend of mine, Dr. James Power, passed along some advice that a psychologist had given him. I have modified that advice for you.
Dear Students, your parents go through stages of development, just like you do, and I want you to understand where your parents are and where they have been. In the early years, your parents were your project managers and being a project manager is a huge job; they organized you, they checked your backpacks and agendas, they made appointments for you, they laid out your clothes for you, they saw to transportation for you, and they made sure you took your lunch to school. In elementary school you were mostly comfortable with this level of project management, of supervision. In fact, many parents seem amazed at the following change—when driving with their 9-year old son and seeing a friend, he might say, “Hey Mom” or “Hey Dad, there’s Biff. Honk the horn so he sees us!” Four years later, that exact scenario plays out in a completely different way. If a mom or dad is driving with their son and spots Biff, before one can think of hitting the horn, the now 13-year old shouts, “Please don’t honk!” as he throws himself under the dashboard. Four more years and the 17-year-old driver doesn’t even want his parents in the car with him. So students, the developmental challenge for your parent is complicated and you need to be aware of that.
To the parents, your son has to “fire” you as his project manager for his own good; it is a necessary step on his journey towards independence. Once you are fired, there are two things that you need to do: First, you have to grieve a bit because a wonderful stage of life is now over. Second, like any project manager, once you’ve been fired, you have to figure out a way to get rehired as a consultant. And being a consultant can be apretty good gig.
Back to advice for the students, I suggest you rehire your former project managers as your consultants.
I ask all of us to take on the Trinitarian task of seeing Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters. There are 38,000 high schools in the country and One DeMatha and just one Trinitarian school.
As a representative of all of the faculty and staff, I extend our best wishes to you and to your families at this special time when we make sacred the spaces in our lives.