The other day as we began Lent I said to my seniors that we are preparing ourselves for the most important event not only in the liturgical calendar, but in the entire history of the cosmos. To put it in terms that relate to the in-the-moment nature of the adolescent brain, I said that without the Resurrection of Jesus there would be no Saint Ignatius High School. Proposing this “what if” made me feel like Clarence Odbody as I looked out at a group of stunned George Baileys: the idea of no Saint Ignatius High School was beyond their comprehension.
To a less cosmic degree – yet still equally true – without the act of canonization declared by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 there would be no Saint Ignatius High School because there would be no “Saint” Ignatius of Loyola.
Thus it is fitting that on March 12th, the day that this year commemorates the 397th anniversary of the canonization of Ignatius Loyola, we come to our school family, friends, and benefactors to ask that they help us to ensure that Saint Ignatius not only remain a strong institution, but that it be the leading light of Catholic education in our diocese and among Jesuit schools across the country.
Tuesday marks our annual Giving Day, and we are confident that our extended family will once again do what they can to make the day a great success. Sure there are incentives – who wouldn’t want to win dinner with the Jesuits or receive any of the other great prizes that will be awarded throughout the day, but no one really gives because of the prizes. They give because of the people who have made, make, and will continue to make Saint Ignatius a school that always strives to do all for the Greater Glory of God.
C.S. Lewis once said that he “stood on the shoulders of giants.” This was his humble admission that without those who had come before him – great theologians and writers like St. Paul and St. Augustine – he would not have been able to be the influence that he was. I know the feeling!
Personally, I am so fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to stand for the past thirty-eight years on the shoulders of a number of teachers and colleagues, both lay and Jesuit, but none more so than the shoulders of the late Mike Pennock ’64 and Jim Skerl ’74. Today I have been graced with the task of carrying on their work, and in courses that they taught when they were here. I am only the momentary caretaker of a great legacy not of my making.
And my story is not unique: it is the story of thousands of people whose lives have been changed for the better by their association with Saint Ignatius High School. There are so many who have been brought closer to Jesus through our academics, sports, the arts, the friendships of schoolmates and teachers, even the campus itself. All of these facets of Wildcat High are featured during different times throughout the day on Tuesday so that people can focus their giving on those aspects of Saint Ignatius that are closest to their hearts.
As you ponder the Ignatian giants in your lives upon whose shoulders you now stand please say a prayer for them – those who have gone home to the Father, those who are retired, and those who still toil in the Lord’s vineyard. And please consider offering a gift in their honor so that future generations of young men will be given their chance to reach great heights by standing on the shoulders of their Ignatian giants.