Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, end of school year – Genazzano College, on Tuesday, 1 December

My dear friends,

Today is a moment when we gather to thank God for his many blessings and for the achievements of staff, students and families of Genazzano over the past year.

Thanksgiving means recognition that things have really changed; that young people through hard work and use of their skills have made a dedicated contribution to the community. It is a moment when we realise that God is the author of all good gifts and that our gifts are received from him in order to be used. Just as our faith, given by the grace of God and the will of our parents at baptism, nourished and nurtured through our journey, is now something that we can decide to embrace fully for ourselves.

At Genazzano you have excellent teachers and leaders. Similarly, you have gifted young people who are responding to the opportunities offered to them and who show their gifts in a somewhat surprising way sometimes, being the benefit of a broad education, which is more than the amassing of facts, but rather a preparation for all facets of life; human, family, intellectual, preparation for a career, insertion into society and realisation that in the Catholic framework we have an invitation from Jesus “love one another as I have loved you”, which sharpens our attitudes to people and to things, so that we take from Jesus the ability to go forward as he would lead us.

While there are many things in education which are the result of individual effort, one of the great shortcomings of our society today is an excessive concentration on the individual, which sometimes inhibits our ability to grow and to know other people and to know the world in which we live.

What is certain, however, is that the education offered at Genazzano and taken up in such a lively way through studies, the arts, drama, sport and community endeavours serves to form young people who are alert to the needs of our world, to the faith vision of Jesus which leads us in the way which will best fulfil us and provides our society with Catholic young women who can make an articulate and gifted contribution to every situation and community in which they live.

This may seem a big ideal for teenagers, but it is founded on a belief in God, a belief in and valuing of ourselves and being ready to offer our gifts, sometimes despite small mistakes, at the service of others and knowing that we are valued. As Archbishop, I want to say how proud I am of you all at Genazzano, how I would challenge you to go on recognising and developing your gifts.

In particular, I want to thank Mrs Patricia Cowling for her years of leadership of the College, the great dedication that she has shown, the hard work and the readiness to walk with generations of young people who have come through Genazzano. I pray that the Lord will bless her in the next stage of her life with happy memories of all that has been achieved.

The final thing that I would leave you with is that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential if we are to live as he lived and to relate to others as he would have us relate with our gifts. This means the importance of prayer. It means the importance of reflection. It means valuing the great prayer of the Mass, where we step back from daily life and open ourselves to God’s plan. May our young people here tonight be gifted, articulate and confident fulfillers of God’s plan and joyful and hope-filled in going forward to the next stage in their life. May Jesus live in our hearts forever.

+ Denis J. Hart,
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