By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry
This week marks ends and beginnings for our SLU community. For many of us it means the end of another academic year and our own search, our pursuit, for better understandings of truth. For others of us, it means the completion of another academic year, knowing we still have a way to go to our destination. And for some. it means a completion of our time at SLU, and the beginning of a new leg of our journey. This week is a celebration of ends and the encouragement to continue as we might have begun.
Some 470-plus years ago, a group of young scholars who eventually became the Society of Jesus, ended their own academic journeys and set off on their own travels. They left the classes, exams and final projects to test their own understanding of truth in the very gritty reality of their world. They—like us, often—must have been excited and even a bit apprehensive about this new phase of their lives. With St. Ignatius leading and traveling with them, they boldly stepped onto their new paths convinced they would find their way if only they trusted in God, and if they remembered the lessons that they had learned together.
As we celebrate this Baccalaureate and Commencement week, we too can follow the example of this early band of Jesuits, these early companions. We can celebrate and pray for the scholars who leave us to make their own journeys. We can pray they trust in God, knowing God guides all of us in His work on our personal paths in life. We can pray in gratitude for the blessing these scholars have been as our friends, our students ... our companions. We can pray God will give them the strength and courage to continue and to deepen what they have learned here, to remember they will always have us as their companions in life. We can pray...
For ourselves, too, we pray we will recognize and appreciate this bittersweet time. We are proud and happy for those who leave us, but we will miss them. We also know we're better for them being here; we know SLU is better for them being here. We pray we may continue to encourage and challenge each other, as we remain on our shared paths in our search for the truth.
As those early Jesuits discovered, and as we know as well, we too have become companions on the road to truth. Because of their formative time with each other, their lives took new roads, forged new paths, entered new frontiers. Distance and time will did not break their bonds.
Like those early companions, we all can set off on our own journeys with trust, with faith, with courage, knowing others important to us will always be with us, encouraging us if we trust what God has begun in us. Life pulls us into beginnings and endings. We can—maybe even must—cooperate to enjoy life, to live life, to really experience all life offers us.
Travel well...come back when you can...
...pursue truth, for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.