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Remarks offered at the Forty-Third Annual Commencement of Catholic Theological Union

May 12, 2011:

You have kindly asked me to share some words of wisdom.  I offer you these words and hope they will inspire you to make wise choices in your own lives.

After living on earth for about 64 years old, I have discovered that life is very much like a basketball game.  There are three categories of people involved in a basketball game: the spectators, team players and the coaches.

The largest number of people at a basketball game is obviously the spectators.  Life is very much like this.  The majority of people in life are spectators, either cheering or booing the game of life.  They are usually the noisiest part of the basketball game.

The next group of people which is smaller in numbers than the spectators group is the team players who work hard to compete in order to win the game.  They play under the guidance of a coach in implementing strategies to overcome challenges.  The success of their game lies in team workmanship.  They feel the eyes of the world are upon them.  Church ministry is much like this.  You need to work closely with the Bishops, pastors, directors of parish programs, religious superiors, Diocese personnel and members of religious congregations to bring success to the mission and goal of the Church.  The Apostles were the best team players in how they dedicated their lives for the tremendous growth and success of Christianity that we see today.

The third category is the coaches, who comprise the group with the smallest number of people on the basketball court.  The coaches have the utmost and awesome responsibility of developing and implementing various strategies for the team players to manage and overcome any challenges the players may face on the basketball court.  Their number is infinitesimally smaller but they exert tremendous impact on the outcome of the basketball game.  This is also the loneliest job anyone could imagine.  They stand alone. The reward for their hard work and strategizing is always either outstanding praise or scathing criticism.  Our role as leaders/coaches in our Church ministry is akin to the Good Friday experience of Jesus.  The only way to succeed is having the willingness to take up the cross and die for the leading/coach job you have been called by God.  We may find it necessary to go up to the mountain often, alone, to pray just like Jesus did.

Today, as you graduate into the Halls of Churches, you will face these God given choices.  You can choose to be merely spectators in the field of ministry work, and if so, you will be fortunately blessed.  Or you may make the choice of playing on the Church team, wherein you will be doubly blessed.  Then, of course you may make the difficult choice of serving as a coach in the vast coliseum of the Roman Catholic Church.  If so, you will have my utmost praise, gratitude and pity.  The task as a coach or leader in the Church can be both a glamorous and crucifying experience, for after all, it will be a part of your Easter experience. As you continue to serve God unconditionally, both in sorrow and joy, you will triumph on your own Easter Sunday, someday, if not today.  

May God bless you and give you His peace!