Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

'Dreaming Big' Starts Before College

Tim Lilley

I begin this column by saluting Evansville’s two new university presidents. Ron Rochon of the University of Southern Indiana and Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz of the University of Evansville attended the 2018 Tomorrow’s Work Force Luncheon (coverage begins on page 1 of this issue) on Oct. 4, and they offered what I believe to be a rare glimpse into their unfiltered perspectives during a lively Q&A session.

Each began by noting their Catholic educations – Rochon attending 12 years in Chicagoland Catholic schools and Pietruszkiewicz following his 12 years near Scranton, Pa., by earning degrees from two Jesuit universities. After hearing that, what followed from them was not surprising.

They agreed on something that, in my opinion, we see all 26 diocesan Catholic schools emphasize daily in their classrooms, on their athletic fields and in other extracurricular activities – the need to dream big.

Mater Dei and Reitz Memorial teams captured four state championships between them in the fall of 2017 because coaches – and families – encouraged their athletes to dream big. Reitz Memorial’s academic decathlon team can boast literally generations of success because its members have been urged to dream big.

Do you know how Mater Dei’s Supermileage team earned another top-five finish in the world Eco-Challenge competition earlier this year? Yep; like teams before them, those young students dreamed big.

We actually can drill down even further than our Catholic high schools. Here’s just one example – our Evansville-area Catholic schools’ National Archery in the Schools Programs. Young archers practice throughout the year – many of them in the evenings and at other times at the diocesan Catholic Center – and they go on to earn local, regional and national acclaim.

It’s all because you, parents, and you, teachers, and you, coaches, let your young people dream big.

Want more evidence? Consider these numbers: $11.9 million and $11.4 million.

Mater Dei students earned $11.9 million in scholarship offers last year, and Reitz Memorial students earned $11.4 million in scholarship offers. Those who attended the 2018 Tomorrow’s Work Force Luncheon heard those numbers; they total $23.3 million in scholarship funds.

To everyone reading these words – please continue to let the young people in your lives dream big. Encourage them and support them.

Above all, help them to see that it is possible to dream big and realize those big dreams while remaining faithful Catholics who receive the sacraments regularly. If you think about it, remaining faithful and receiving the sacraments is part of the biggest dream anyone can have – an eternity with God in heaven.