Sunday, May 08, 2011

Earn This

This is Mr. Weber's last address of the 2010-2011 school year.

On Friday, during a ceremony to bless our new weight room and thank Mr. Jim Carell for his generosity in helping us purchase the new equipment, Mr. Carell announced he was going to build us concession stands and bathrooms, turf our field, and furnish us with a new track. This is an extraordinary gift, the largest our school has ever received since its founding, when Mr. Carell’s brother Monroe and his wife Ann gave the diocese five million dollars as the lead gift in a 23 million dollar project to build this high school.

What can we say or do in response to such extraordinary generosity?

Jesus once said, “To he who is given much, much is expected” (Luke 12:48). I don’t think Jesus meant that because we’ve been given a turf field and a track, he expects us to win more games or track meets. I think he meant that those who have been treated generously must live their lives so that these gifts are not wasted, so that we become people who lead others to do what is good, to do what is right, and to do what is holy.

Seniors, this is the last high school assembly you will attend here as students of Pope John Paul II High School, and aside from a few introductory remarks at Awards Night and Graduation, the last time I will ever have the opportunity to speak to you. You may remember, way back in your freshman year when I spoke to you the first time, as a visitor, just after I had been announced as the new headmaster, but still months away from beginning here. I talked to you then about my favorite movie of all time, Saving Private Ryan. Recall the plot line. It was during World War II, and a mother had four sons who were sent into battle. Three sons were killed during the Normandy landing, and the fourth son, Private James Francis Ryan, a paratrooper (played in the movie by Matt Damon), was lost somewhere in Nazi-occupied France when a drop went badly.

When the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Marshall, learns of the terrible fate of the mother who had lost three sons, he sends Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks) and a unit of his men on a rescue mission deep behind enemy lines to rescue her fourth son.Thus the title, “Saving Private Ryan.” Over the course of the mission, many of the unit’s soldiers die valiantly, and those who remain question why so many should die for the sake of just one man. At the end of the movie, the Tom Hanks character, Captain Miller, is also mortally wounded. But before he dies, he brings Private Ryan close to him, and whispers on behalf of the many who have died rescuing him, “Earn this!”

Earn this, seniors. No, we've not been in WWII. But for four years, your parents have gone through great sacrifice to send you to what I still believe to be, as I said to you then, one of the very best high schools in the country. Earn this. Your teachers and coaches are at the very top of their profession and they sacrifice a lot to teach here, but they are committed to the mission of this place, and committed to you. Earn this, on behalf of the donors like the Carells who have made this place possible, but also the many, many people who have given what they can to keep JPII affordable to those who otherwise would not be able to attend.

“To those given much, much is expected.”

It has been a great privilege to have you as students here. Now, as we sing from time to time at mass, go make a difference! The world needs smart, virtuous, faithful leaders. Go make a difference in this world, and may God bless you!

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