“What Will You Do With Your Gifts?”An Address to the Students Being Inducted in the Bishop Kelley National Honor Society

Address to the Students of National Honor Society of Bishop Kelley High School

November 21, 2016

It’s a very interesting time to be alive. The world around us is changing at a rapid pace. Our recent election has tensions high. Mothers and father pitted against sons and daughters. Brothers taking on sisters to argue that their view of the world is better. This tension, this high tension makes it a very interesting time to be alive.

Just last week here at Bishop Kelley, we had Grandparents Day. It’s one of my favorite days of the year because the optimism and idealism of youth (something our world desperately needs) comes face to face with the beauty and grace of the wisdom of age (something our world desperately needs).

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world”, St. Paul says “But be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

You inductees into the National Honor Society of Bishop Kelley High School are here because you have achieved at a high level. This is not a participation award given to students for just showing up. This is a society that seeks to encapsulate the traits of leadership, scholarship, service and character. Not every student is invited, but you were. You were because you exemplify the best of what we are as a school. You are being inducted tonight because you have taken your God given abilities and used them to further your education and to love your neighbor. On behalf of the administration, faculty, and staff of Bishop Kelley High School, I say “Congratulations!” You should be proud. Your parents should be proud because you have achieved. You have not put your light under a bushel basket. You have let that light shine before others.

So what now? In this very interesting time to be alive, you have a choice as you leave this gym tonight. Life is full of choices big and small and a big choice lies before you. The choice is whether tonight’s honor will be used for yourself or for others. Will NHS be a resume builder? Will NHS be just something you put on your transcript to say that you achieved something or will be a spring board? A spring board to use the talents that God has given you to bring about his “good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Will the gifts God has given you, be for yourself or for others? That’s the choice set before you tonight.

Will you take on St. Paul’s challenge to the people of Rome to “Live in harmony with one another” to be “willing to associate with people of low position”, “to live at peace with everyone”, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, and to “overcome evil with good.” That’s the choice before you.

One of my favorite saints of all time is St. John Paul II.  I love him not only because of his faithful service to the Catholic Church and to the world but because who he was. He was an actor, an athlete, a man of towering intellect who spoke 13 languages, had a doctorate in Philosophy and Theology, was a prolific writer of not only Church documents but also poetry and works for the theater. Here was a man with tremendous gifts who put them at the service of God for the good of others. He made that choice.

Overlapping with the life of St. John Paul II, was a lesser known saint. Her birth name was Edith Stein, a German philosopher and convert to Catholicism who was an atheist in her teenage years but who was so moved by the horror of World War I, she became a nurse and began to read the works of great saints like Teresa of Avila. She later completed a doctorate and became a university professor before joining a monastery in Cologne where her Catholic faith, her public profession of faith, and standing up against the Nazis led to her death in a concentration camp. She took her intellect and her faith and put them at the service of God and the Church. We call her St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Two great saints, who at very important times in history, put their talents at the service of God. They chose it and now we call them saints.

What will you do new members of the National Honor Society. How will you use your God given talents to serve God and His people? In these interesting times, we need you now more than ever. We need your idealism, we need your energy. We need your minds, we need your hearts. We need you to take seriously St. Paul’s words to the Romans “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God.” Leaving here tonight, the choice is yours. I pray that God will guide you to use your talents, not for yourselves but for the glory of God who made you.

Thanks for your time and, once again, congratulations on this most auspicious occasion of being inducted into the Bishop Kelley chapter of the National Honor Society.

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About Rev. Brian O'Brien

Priest of the Diocese of Tulsa and President of Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, OK.
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