Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Montgomery Catholic: A Retrospective
Note: My daughter Cynthia just graduated from MCPS and will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall. This is the text of a speech she gave in her role as student body president, on the occasion of a public kick-off for our capital campaign in February.
Hi, my name is Cynthia Weber. As the SGA president of the high school campus, and as a student in my 13th year at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School, I feel very honored to be speaking to you on behalf of the student body.
It seems like just yesterday I was crouching under the old blue wooden bleachers at a football game, staring at the cheerleaders like they were mythical gods. And it seems like just yesterday I was finally having my first day of high school. But here I am, another senior in another graduating class at Catholic (although you could hardly call the class of 2007 ‘another class’), and ironically, it’s now when the school seems weather-beaten, its problems revealed, the stress piled on, that I’ve begun to appreciate this institution the most.
When you’re a senior, time supposedly speeds up, but the moments seem to stand still. When I walk down the hallways of this school, I feel like I walk more slowly than I used to. I walk through the empty hallways and look at the same news articles pinned on the bulletin board, vaguely listening to the familiar voice of Mr. Frye getting onto someone is his classroom down the hall. And I feel strangely overcome by something. It’s a familiar feeling that I think most of us have experienced; we experience it alone in hallways, lying in the grass at PE, at a graduation ceremony, or gathered here as a community.
Today, I’d like to offer you an idea, an idea which I think explains that phenomenon we sometimes experience at our time at Catholic- as students, parents, faculty, and even bystanders. That is this: that Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School is a place of true greatness.
St. Theresa once said a very shocking thing. She said that to be great means to be a quiet place of refuge for Jesus Christ. When I first heard that, I was pretty skeptical. I immediately thought, “what about honor? Peserverence, genius, hardwork, self-discipline, and true love!?” But, if you’re like me, you’ll catch yourself and realize what you’re actually thinking. You see, it’s hard for us because secular society, despite all its merits, would like us to separate those qualities from Christ. It wants us to wrap up all of our little theories about eternal life, the dignity of man, the miracle of grace, into a package and tuck it away under our arm and pretend it’s not reality, to pretend it has absolutely nothing to do with our laws or our “actual” lives, that it has nothing to do with perseverance, truth, honor, and love.
The paradox is that to accept those qualities completely is to accept Christ himself, and to accept Christ is to accept those qualities. When an institution openly and completely accepts Christ as their cornerstone, the door is automatically opened to a wealth of blessings- blessings which are entirely applicable to our lives; not only applicable, but necessary. When you walk through the hallways of Montgomery Catholic by yourself, when you step inside the chapel after a really stressful morning to feel a rush of relief and comfort for no explainable reason, when you wait to pick up your kids from school or watch your child receive a diploma from the archbishop, and you get that strange, ephemeral feeling of longing or hope- you are experiencing the presence of the divine.
It is that- the presence of Christ every day- which so obviously sets Montgomery Catholic apart from other schools. Because no matter how we fail, no matter the outside pressures of society, no matter the assaulting corruptions of relativism, no matter the denial of truth and goodness- this institution will always stand as a humble monument to hope, a humble monument to the presence of Christ.