2014 Commencement Address

Myra Nati

Matthew 23: 1, 8-10 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples saying, “As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah.

Well, this is awkward. I stand before you today with the newly granted (or soon-to-be granted) title of Master Catechist. It’s my first day being called Master Catechist and I’m already in trouble.

But seriously, this title of “Master” is a very humbling one and I accept it, unworthy as I feel. Unworthy was a feeling I had since I started studying for my Masters Certificate and it’s a feeling I had even through my Master’s panel.

I started this journey in 2010, being a part of the first batch of students for MSI which was then just YACS or Young Adult Catechist Society. There were seven of us and I’d like to acknowledge my batchmates who are here today to support me. [Ask them to stand and be acknowledged] They came at my request and I thank them, from the bottom of my heart, that they took the time to be here again. I’d also like to acknowledge my family, who without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to even start this journey. [Ask family to stand and be acknowledged] They actually didn’t know I was giving a speech, so…surprise!

After receiving my Basic Certificate I began my studies towards the Masters Certificate. I was on fire to know more about Christ and His Church. It was like the saying goes, “The thirst is real.” I wanted to dive deeper into Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I wanted to study the Mass and dissect every prayer out there. The thirst to know God more was real – is real. I had to keep studying.

And studying I did. But God is funny because all my studying wasn’t enough. Truth be told, I actually did not pass my first panel for Master Catechist. Yeah, no lie. Me, girl on fire for God. I didn’t pass. And I’m actually glad I didn’t. I learned three valuable lessons since that first failed panel.

Lesson One: The more I learned about the faith, the more I realized I didn’t know the faith. Some would think of this as a sort of curse as a perpetual student. I like to think of this as the infinite, beautiful mystery of Christ and His Church. It’s like marriage. Every day I’m learning something new about my husband and the Church. And every day I fall deeper in love with both.

Second lesson, God loves us. This seems like a simple lesson and it sounds like a broken record. But if you were to sit there, and I truly encourage everyone to try this exercise. Go to the most peaceful place you know, close your eyes, and ponder God’s love. That’s what I got to do every time I dove into the Word of God or a piece of His Church’s teaching. I discovered how much God loves us and wants a beautiful life for us. And He gave His guidance on how to obtain that beautiful life through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, something we cover from day 1 in class.

And Lastly, Jesus is the Master. He is the one doing the teaching. Not me. These are His words, His teachings, and His Church. I am merely a servant doing my Master’s will. From the first day of Basic Class to the last day of my Master panel, God has set a path for me that I would have never imagined, to let my soul overflow with joy and peace that I would have never known otherwise. To save my soul from its despair and to let me fall in love with Him in a special way.

Now, I stand before you today, finally as a Master Catechist, knowing that Christ is the Master and I am only called to follow His footsteps. Also knowing that it is not enough to study Christ, but I must also live like the one true Master Catechist – Christ.

On the first day of Master Catechist class, we went into church and knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We reflected on these words:

Matthew 23: 1, 8-10 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples saying, “As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam. To God be the glory. Thank you.

 

Melissa Buyarski

Since I was a small child, I’ve always been interested in learning about my Catholic faith.  My parents provided many opportunities for learning when I was young, and as I grew older, I sought out my own ways/times to learn.  When I was preparing for confirmation in 8th grade, I took on additional projects beyond my class requirements—I even made a timeline of church history that stretched across the entire classroom.  In college, every activity I did outside of class was somehow related to growing in my faith.  When Tove Ann first presented the MSI program at our parish, I turned to my husband and immediately told him “I want to do that!”

And here we are, a year later.  The Saturday classes were long, especially if you had a make-up session at the end, but at the same time, they always seemed to end too soon; there was always more to learn.  And the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.  Working our way through the Catechism, relating that to the Scriptures and other Church documents, each class built upon the previous lessons, adding new layers to my understanding of the faith.

Through this Basic Catechist program, I’ve come to a wider realization of just how interconnected all the teachings of the Catholic church are.  Nothing stands in isolation, nothing just sprang up into being; each and every part developed from another, beginning with God’s revelations to us, in His own time.  Even this building up of knowledge, the layers added as the church developed and articulated her doctrines and teachings is itself another example of God’s timing—in our class, we often spoke of God’s infinite plan and how we, as finite beings, cannot have the capacity to understand it, so God in His mercy has revealed it to us in pieces, as we are capable of beginning to understand.

To those of you who have completed the Basic Catechist program with me, I say Congratulations.  I hope you’ve found the effort and learning as instructive and rewarding as I have.  To those of you who have helped us along the way, our families and friends, teachers, and those who support MSI through your prayers and gifts, I thank you.  Your faith and support have made this learning and growth possible, and enable us to go forward and do the same for others.  To those here considering participating in the program this fall, I encourage you to do so.  In our class, we spoke of being in a catechetical crisis—there are so many adults in our church who don’t know or understand what the Church teaches.  The Church needs more of us to first ground ourselves in the knowledge of the faith, and then go out and share that with others, through religious education programs for the children of our parish, through adult education programs and other parish ministries, and most importantly, in the way we live our lives every day.  Our faith and love of God should be reflected in our daily actions.

Today’s graduation is not the end of our learning—far from it.  I don’t know what the next step is for you, but I look forward to starting the Master Catechist classes in the fall, having an opportunity to go even deeper into the Catechism and hopefully becoming more effective in sharing our faith with my family, my CCD students, and anyone else God calls me to minister to.  I ask the intercession of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, that she may be our guiding star through the darkness of this world and lead us to her Son, and the unity with God for which we were created.

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