June 7, 2013

Be Our Guest / David Page

Valedictorian tells classmates to seek success by continuing to seek God

(Editor’s note: David Page, class valedictorian, delivered the valedictory address at Roncalli High School’s graduation ceremony on May 25 at the Indianapolis school.)

David PageOver the course of this past senior year, we have all engaged in one of the most important processes of any young adult’s life: finding ourselves.

Be it through sports, academics, theater, art, music, or a myriad of other passions, we have all attempted to identify what defines us as us.

So, who are we? One three. We are Roncalli’s Class of 2013.

We are a class composed of state finalist wrestlers, of a grand champion show choir, and of a state-caliber spell bowl team. We are a class of incredibly diverse, talented individuals.

In the years ahead, we will all utilize those talents differently to definitively establish who we are in the world. I have no doubt in my mind that I have, sitting in front of me, future CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, artists, athletes, and maybe even a professional racecar driver.

However, what we make of ourselves, what we define ourselves as, by the world’s standard, does not bother me at all. Therefore, I am not going to challenge you to be successful in a worldly sense. No, this is my challenge to each of you: in establishing who you want to be, do not lose sight of who you always have been, a child of God.

What we become in life means absolutely nothing without God. He didn’t create us to pursue fame and fortune until the day we die. He didn’t create us so to be “successful” in the world.

Rather, from countless conversations with my parents, personal reflection and especially senior retreat, I know why God created us.

You see, God is perfect love. He is so loving, so caring, and so purely good that he chose to create a being to share that love with. We are those beings.

God created us to feel his love and be that love to the world, but we turned away from him. I’m asking you to turn back.

I’m asking you to make our world the warm, welcoming place it was meant to be. I’m asking you to be love, to be a reflection of God, to each and every person you meet for the rest of your life. In my mind, that’s a much greater challenge than “succeeding” in the world.

Now, I know asking you to show God to all people is pretty vague. After all, what does it really mean to be a reflection of God to someone? Let me expound on that with a passage from 1 Corinthians, keeping in my mind that love is God and God is love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes. It always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Cor 13:4-8). God never fails.

This passage provides a set of guidelines that I encourage you to adhere to as each of you continue to develop into adults in our society. Be patient with others and show them genuine care. Do not let jealousy consume you or arrogance puff out your chest.

Develop selfless respect and a cool temper when dealing with even the most bothersome of people. This one is especially hard for me, but do not hold grudges. Do not draw your joy from reveling in the shortcomings of other human beings, but celebrate their accomplishments with them.

Protect the outcast, trust in people and build toward a brighter tomorrow. Do all these things with God and you will not fail.

Maintaining a relationship with God and incorporating him into our lives will not be easy. A couple months from now, most of us will leave the idealistic bubble of Catholic education and community that we have been living in for the past 18 years. Outside of this protective environment, you will meet many more people with beliefs opposed to your own.

I implore you to stand strong in your convictions. It will take dedication to your faith, to prayer, and to love as defined by 1 Corinthians, but I promise a life centered on God will be worthwhile.

My parents have proven that statement true to me time and time again. Throughout my life, they have done exactly what I am asking you to do; they have lived lives dedicated to God by being love to everyone they meet.

My dad respects all people and will help anyone that comes to him in a bind. He’s frequently told me that as long as he helps as many people possible with the gifts he’s been given, God will always provide for him and he has.

My mom is the most selflessly loving person any of you will ever know. Constantly, she puts others before herself, placing their happiness above her own. In return, God gives her an incredible strength to persevere through her troubles.

I love both of them more than I could possibly express, and can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to go to Roncalli. They have been my reflections of God, and I am extremely grateful for that.

I’d like to leave you with a quote my mother shared with me as a freshman. She recognized me struggling with isolation and loneliness, two emotions you may very well experience at times if you choose to embrace the challenge I’ve laid before you and live for God.

The quote, which has become a personal mantra of mine, is from my favorite poem, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. Frost writes, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

In our current world, many people scoff at the idea of being an altruistic, loving person. Do not listen to them.

Rather, choose the road to God, the road less traveled by, and that will make all the difference.

(David Page is the son of David and Santina Page of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis.)

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