I don’t know what it is about baptisms lately, but from my vantage point at Sunday Mass yesterday, I experienced an interesting phenomenon. The Sacrament of Baptism was celebrated for two children at a Mass that was also honoring high school graduates. Not just ANY high school graduates, but a class of students I and my colleagues have had the opportunity to work with since they were in seventh grade. In a very real way, we have watched these young people grow up through the years. During this one Mass, it was as if we were witnessing “bookends” in child development…the beginning of life in the Church of God for two young children and the sending forth of these recent grads toward college and beyond.
For the high school graduates blessed and sent forth, we become known as their parish family, the people they see on Sunday or in Faith Formation classes or in the parish office occasionally when assistance was needed or paperwork was submitted. As they grew, a few of our students partnered with us in ministry as altar servers or Confirmation peer mentors, choir members and cross bearers. Some lent a hand in classrooms. Some journeyed to ND Vision in South Bend, IN with us for a deeper exploration of our shared Catholic faith.
Through the years, I had the unique privilege of getting to know these students’ parents. Their children will probably never know that occasionally we laughed together, cried together, and prayed for their well-being…that’s all stuff that happens behind the scenes, where it should. But from my vantage point yesterday, witnessing babies and high school grads, I thanked God for those special shared moments. Yesterday, at Mass, those babies, those grads…I know they’re really not OUR children, but we are all one in the Church of God. Welcome, newest members of our Church, and to our high school graduates, Godspeed!