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2021-12-01 15:00:00

Just Days Away!

Giving Tuesday is almost here! Mark your calendars for November 30!

Give kids a bright future

Just Days Away!

Giving Tuesday is almost here! Mark your calendars for November 30th! On this global day of giving, help give deserving kids a brighter future.

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There are only a few hours left to help out families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Gifts made today will be matched.

#GivingTuesdayNow is almost over. Only a few hours left to help our families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Gifts made today will be matched up to $50,000 thanks to the generosity of a dedicated group of employees at William Blair and its matching gifts program.

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It Begins With You

You can help create a brighter future for Chicago’s children by supporting Mercy Home’s March for Kids this month.

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Fr. Scott Speaks to the Graduates

Fr. Scott Speaks to the Graduates

Fr. Scott Commencement
Saturday, May 7, Fr. Scott addressed the graduates of St. Xavier University’s Schools of Nursing and Education. There, Fr. Scott was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by the university. Below is a full transcript of Fr. Scott’s commencement address.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today.

When Archbishop Cupich heard that the Trustees at St. Xavier had invited me to address the graduates, he sent me a very nice letter.

In it, he congratulated me. He remarked what an honor it is to speak to you—and it truly is an honor for me.

And, he wished me all the best.

In his post-script, he gave me some terrific advice.

Now, the Archbishop is an excellent public speaker, so I was more than eager for any tips he could share with me about giving the best presentation possible.

His advice was as profound as it was simple.

‘Scott,’ he said, ‘Just keep your address under 10 minutes and you’ll be ok.’

34 years ago, at my own ordination — which is essentially our graduation day from the seminary — I placed my hands into the hands of the Bishop, in accordance with the ancient ritual and tradition, and I promised to be obedient to him and to his successors.

Therefore, if I manage to keep this under 10 minutes, you can send your thank you notes to Archbishop Cupich.

A short speech is just the first graduation gift I want to give to you today.

I really have four others.

These four gifts also come in the form of simple advice.

They were given to me, interestingly enough, one day after my own graduation, my ordination into the priesthood.

After 34 years, I can still say that are the greatest gifts — the greatest advice — I have ever received.

The morning after my ordination, I went back to St. Juliana’s Parish, where I had been a deacon. I was scheduled to celebrate my very first Mass for the children at the parish school.

Though the audience was to be made up of kids from kindergarten through 8th grade, about 600 students, it was my first Mass, and so I was very nervous.

I arrived at 7:30 a.m. and walked into the rectory office.

The high school girl, Mary Fran, who answered the phones for us appeared flustered. And a little relieved at the same time to see me.

“Father,” she said.

That was the first time anyone had ever called me that, Father.

She said, “Father, there’s a woman on the phone who says her dog is sick…

And she wants to talk to a priest.”

Uh-oh, I thought. That’s me— I’m now a priest!

So I had to pause for a moment. I thought, we were never taught this at the seminary.  I was trying to think of what I might say to this woman, who was very upset about her beloved pooch.

God’s grace comes into our lives in many forms.

And on this day, it walked right through the office door in the form of my Pastor, Fr. Don Ahearn.

I apprised Fr. Ahearn of the situation.

Very calmly, very confidently, he said, “I’ll handle this,” … he walked over to the desk, and picked up the phone.

“Good morning ma’am. This is Fr. Ahern. What can I do for you?”

He listened—it’s so important in the work that we do to really listen!

Then he responded: “Bring the dog to the phone, please.”

He said a few words, a little prayer for healing for the dog. Said goodbye, and hung up the phone.

And that was that. The woman was calmer. The crisis was over.

I said “Don, that was amazing!”  His reply: “Not so amazing!

It didn’t hurt the dog. The woman felt better. I don’t think God really cares.” And I laughed.

He turned to me and said, “Scott, this is what I learned about being a priest.”

What he told me next–four things–remain the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me.

He said:

  1. Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect.
  2. Say ‘yes’ to people whenever possible.
  3. Keep a sense of humor.
  4. And always remember, the work is not about you. It’s about God.

His words, still as important to every part of my life as they are to my ministry as a priest.

Graduates, I’m deeply honored and humbled to be here today.

Not only to congratulate you on your accomplishments, but to reflect upon what your academic journey at St. Xavier University was all about; and more importantly, what it means going forward.

In addition to honoring you as individuals, this is a day to recognize St. Xavier’s great tradition and mission of service, which is rooted in the values of the Sisters of Mercy.

A mission to “serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good”

A mission that will help inform you and guide you along your own personal and professional paths, no matter where they may lead.

We celebrate the impact of an institution born in the decade after this great city was founded. An institution that grew right alongside Chicago…

…that was first established to serve women and the poor…and that today creates tomorrow’s peacemakers, healers, educators, and leaders who will shape this city’s future and our world.

After 34 years, I can still say that are the greatest gifts — the greatest advice — I have ever received.

I’ve been truly blessed to have spent the past 25 years of my 34-year ministry caring for children at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.

My coworkers are also motivated by compassion, by a desire to serve, and by a vision of our common future where all children are cared for, loved and prepared to succeed.

But I think what my coworkers have most in common with all of you is their commitment to bring the healing and education to our young people.

It’s been the central privilege of my ministry to work alongside these dedicated professionals day in and day out, as we share with our young people the gifts that we have been given to help them chart their own paths forward.

But I can tell you from my experience, that those gifts are not always well-received. At least not always right away, at least not every day.

I know that a graduation speech is supposed to be encouraging. And I hope that I am.

But I also think it’s important as educators and healers that we go forward from here with our eyes open to certain realities that can leave you disheartened if you don’t keep in mind why you do what you do.

The plain fact is you won’t always get a pat on the back. Some days, you will give your best, and it will go unrecognized.

At times like these, what will inspire you to do what’s needed? What will keep you going when you’re challenged in ways big and small?

When your students resist learning. When your patients rebuff your compassion.

The children in Mercy Home’s care have been so accustomed to being hurt or disappointed by adults. So they build a protective layer around themselves, using powerful defense mechanisms. They often resist the help that we so freely offer.

But we don’t ever give up on them. Most tell us in their own ways that they are grateful before they leave Mercy Home. While others come back years later to admit that yes, we made the difference in their lives. But every day is a challenge.

When you are tested, it’s critical that you keep in mind those higher ideals that you have received through your excellent education at St. Xavier.

You are the co-creators of God’s kingdom here on earth.

That God calls to you to love and serve through your loving attention to your students and your patients.

The Venerable Mother Catherine Elizabeth McCauley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy back in Ireland said, “Mercy receives the ungrateful again and again, and is never weary in pardoning them.”

Like Mercy itself, we don’t serve others to bathe in their gratitude. To get that pat on the back. Even when it’s well deserved.

We serve out of a calling to live the word Compassion. A word that means ‘to walk with those who suffer in life’. You are an instrument of God’s peace, God’s love, God’s Mercy.

This is why Fr. Ahern’s words have had such an impact on me. And, why I think that they can be a resource for you as you go forward to serve others.

As you bring the light of learning and the light of healing to your fellow human beings.

Because I think that they convey perfectly what is it that we’re called to do in life, especially as teachers and nurses.

As caretakers, and as caregivers.

How life should be lived.

  • Treating everyone you meet with dignity and respect reminds us that we are all sisters and brothers made in God’s image, and that we are loved by Him equally. This makes the right action in any given situation so much clearer.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to others keeps us connected with the whole of humanity; keeps us actively engaged in life.
  • Seeing the humor in all situations helps us avoid the anxiety that can come with taking ourselves too seriously.
  • And, keeping our sight on what God asks of us keeps us focused on what’s truly important in life.

As servants of God, demands are going to be made of us. However the gospel tells us FEAR NOT!  “Fear Not” is the most common phrase found in the New Testament.  It is a proclamation made by God’s angels and the Lord himself.  Graduates Fear Not for each of you are very gifted, you have an excellent education and God’s grace to succeed, to excel.

The fruit of the gospel tells us that we get back 40 fold, 60 fold, 100 fold what we invest in our service to others, you will experience this first hand.

I am grateful that God put Fr. Donald Ahern, into my life, so he could give me gifts that have hopefully shaped everything I’ve done as a person and as a priest.

I am grateful—in advance—of every great thing each of you will do. Of every life you will change through your own personal ministry of educating and bringing healing and hope!

Congratulations on your achievement. Be joyous, be grateful, and celebrate as you share…

Share the God given gifts that have been given to you simply as gift, as you educate and bring hope and healing to our world which desperately needs you and your many gifts.

Thank you.

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