Pope Francis sent a special message to Padua Franciscan High School’s graduating Class of 2014. It was delivered by Padua’s commencement speaker, Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor.
Fr. Perry had lunch with the Pope in Palestine and Israel a few days prior to Padua’s graduation. While dining together, the Pope asked Fr. Perry to carry this message to the seniors, their families, faculty, and staff. On Friday, May 30, 2014, Fr. Perry paraphrased the Pope’s message to a crowd at Holy Family Church in Parma.
“Please tell my young brothers and sisters to open their hearts to life, to one another and to God who loves each and every one of them. Please tell them it is o.k. to make mistakes for the sake of love, and to forgive themselves for any mistakes they have made or will make in the future. Tell them to forgive their parents and friends, their teachers and the Franciscans for any mistakes or hurt they might have caused. Tell them they are not perfect; their parents, teachers, the Franciscans and other priests and religious are not perfect; tell them not even the Pope is perfect. We are human beings; we are called to receive and offer forgiveness to one another; we are called to love, not to hate; we are called to be peacemakers in a world that needs the gift of God’s peace. Tell them they are to place their lives in service to others and to become a blessing to others, like the Beatitudes Jesus preached, his Sermon on the Mount. Remind them that they should seek to be the best in all they do but they also should not turn the pursuit of success, pleasure and possessions into idols, nor allow these to control their lives because they risk becoming slaves to these. Tell them I am praying they become and remain friends with God, and that God wants to journey with them and be alive in their hearts and families. Tell them to trust God because He will lead them to authentic love, joy and peace. Tell them they are to be disciples of Jesus, missionaries of love and joy, they are to go out to the world, to embrace life with hope, embrace those who are poor as their brothers and sisters. Tell them to accept the challenges that will come and to see these as opportunities for growth, for love and for faith!” — Pope Francis