Bishop's Message To Graduates: 'See, Judge And Act'
Editor’s note – following is the text of Bishop Charles C. Thompson’s message to the Class of 2017 representing all four Diocese of Evansville Catholic high schools: Mater Dei and Reitz Memorial in Evansville, Rivet in Vincennes and Washington Catholic in Washington.
Today you close one chapter of your lives and begin a new one. Life is comprised of a
succession of such marking posts as graduations, advancements, certifications and promotions.
Graduation is a worthy accomplishment, worth celebrating. One does not get here on his or her
Each will take with you a certain amount of knowledge, memories, experiences, hopes
and dreams. You are products of Catholic formation and education. Perhaps in varying degrees,
your lives have been shaped by Catholic teaching. Whether or not you have embraced this
teaching, you have been made aware of Catholic belief in the mission entrusted to the Church,
involving all its members, by Jesus Christ. At the core of Catholic belief are the seven principles
of Catholic Social Teaching. These include (1) the sacredness of life and dignity of the human
person; (2) the call to family, community and participation in society; (3) the fundamental rights
and responsibilities that we all have to one another; (4) the preferential option for the poor and
vulnerable; (5) the dignity of work and rights of workers; (6) the solidarity of the human family
in pursuit of justice and peace; and (7) care for God’s creation as gift.
In light of these 7 key principles, I want to encourage you to consider a very simple yet
profound “pathway” of entering into the next chapter of your life. In fact, it is a way of
journeying through each and every chapter of life. That “pathway” is summed up in the words
see, judge and act. First of all, it is important to “see clearly the situation.” This is done through
prayer, study, reflection and dialogue. It involves the search for authentic truth, based on actual
facts rather than mere emotion or feelings. The second step, “judging”, requires that you be
aware of your core values as a person of faith. It is important to identify your beliefs, principles
and motives for making decisions about life, relationships, work, others and faith-living.
Thirdly, may you possess the courage, humility and generosity to “act” on what you see and
judge to be right and just. Be especially attentive to the plight of those who struggle with
loneliness, poverty, mistreatment, persecution, rejection and any form of injustice.
You have been blessed with a tremendous formation and education. Many have
sacrificed—your parents; school administrators, faculty and staff; priests and parish staffs;
perhaps even grandparents and anonymous donors—so that you might realize this day in your
life. What might you do with such a blessing? How might others—your family, society, faith
community and the world—benefit from this blessing? As you go forward, on to further
chapters of life, be assured of God’s love and our prayers for you. Dare to believe in yourselves,
in what has been provided to you by your family, school and faith community, and, most
especially, the divine grace at work in and through you. As you are richly blessed, so may you