As Verbum Dei seniors anxiously await responses from the colleges to which they have applied, I find myself taking the time to reflect on the growth that these young men have experienced during their four years at the Verb. They have grown academically, socially, and athletically, but also, and most importantly, they have grown in their awareness of the human rights and have learned the importance of advocacy in times of injustice.
The “Nine Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching” by Thomas Massaro, S.J is beautifully written piece that eloquently highlights the theme of human rights. According to Fr. Massaro, if we were all formed in the image of God, then each and every human being, regardless of who they are and what they have done in their lives, should have access to basic human rights including the ability to attain what is needed to live fully and completely. He argues that when opposition to this belief is experienced, it is the role of the faithful to stand up and speak up.
At Verbum Dei, our mission is to serve the underserved. It is no secret that many of our students come from homes where resources are limited and parents work tirelessly to make ends meet. Despite the situation of their home lives, Verbum Dei students come to school each day to make a difference both by expanding their minds educationally and becoming men of character who stand against injustice and who have love for the fellow man. These students serve, on a regular basis, giving of their time to make the lives of others better. They have worked in soup kitchens, in nursing homes, and have stood in solidarity with the homeless and refugees. They have traveled to the United States border to leave water for those who are crossing and paid homage to those who lost their lives on the journey. They have raised funds to bring awareness and support young people all around the globe. They have laughed together, cried together, and have created a bond that will last longer than the brief four years they have together at Verb.
In a recent lecture I attended, the question was asked of whether two high achieving students, one attending public school and one attending Catholic school, had access to the same education. I believe the answer is no because there is no common core standard that addresses morality and ethics, love and compassion, forgiveness and faith. It is student who attends the Catholic school that will receive the most priceless gift that can never be returned, and who, by far, receives the superior education.
So as our seniors sit on the edges of their seats in anticipation of learning which colleges and universities have deemed them worthy of acceptance, they should take comfort in knowing that whatever the result, on this voyage, they have become men of character, who are academically competent and socially aware, and ready to be agents of change that this world needs.