Tomorrow evening begins the celebration of the Baccalaureate Masses for our five regional Catholic high schools. For me, it is a blessing to pray with our seniors and their families as they prepare to begin a new chapter in their young adult lives. Graced with the power of the Holy Spirit and having been educated and formed in our Catholic schools, our seniors will begin college armed with the tools they need to continue to grow in wisdom and grace.
It is important to remember that moments of transition, such as graduation, are very important in the life of any young person. While they represent the start of exciting, new opportunities that college affords, such moments of transition also represent a challenge for young people, who will need to establish new friendships and find communities of faith in which they can be fed and encouraged spiritually. Research indicates that many young people, who enjoyed a wonderful high school experience that helped strengthen their Catholic faith, can easily fall away from the practice of the faith when they go to college, in part because they lose focus, direction and encouragement during the initial transition into college. For this reason, we need to strengthen our outreach to college freshmen, in part to ensure that they make the transition with a focus on maintaining and protecting their Catholic faith.
Parents also can play a crucial role in this transition. Please remain in steady contact with your teenagers during their first few months in college, even if such contact may not always be welcomed. Inquire whether your son or daughter is praying each day and going to Mass each Sunday. It may appear at first to be “nagging”, but young people need direction and will eventually understand the loving motivation behind such persistent questions.
We must also pray that our new freshmen in college find true supportive friendships as they begin their life on campus. For good friends can help our freshmen to deepen their discipleship in Jesus.
For now, let us rejoice in the many accomplishments of our high school seniors and pray that the collegiate chapter in their lives will be a blessed one!
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos!