Different Is Good

All-school Mass on August 22 celebrated the opening of Fenwick’s 94th academic year!

By Elise Weyer ’23 (Western Springs, IL)

Good morning, Friars. Welcome to the first Mass and the first day of the 2022-23 school year! It is so exciting to see everyone this morning and wonderful that we are all together again.

A week ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a post that caught my attention. It said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As I sat down to write this reflection, I kept thinking about this quotation. We may think that it’s easier to go on our own track and take the easy way out when trying to accomplish a task. However, when we go together, we can achieve much more than we would alone.

St. Catherine of Siena

This phrase reminded me of another quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” When we accept ourselves and accept others for who they are, we create a community of people who are striving to share the fire. Sometimes we think that we can’t trust in God or we feel far from Him. However, when we trust in His will and trust the people in our lives that He has sent for us, the difficulty of growth becomes much easier. 

South Bend in the Summer

At the end of June, I had the privilege of attending the Notre Dame Vision retreat with members of the Preaching Team and other members of the Fenwick community. During this week, we were able to experience small-group discussions, lectures on faith, reconciliation and adoration. One of the main stories we focused on was Agnes: The Lost Sheep. This story is an adaptation of the parable of the lost sheep (one of Jesus’s stories). This version imagines that Agnes is a sheep who has a different color coat from the rest of the other sheep. She is ridiculed by the other sheep for not fitting in, and they tell her that the Shepherd will never love her. Agnes feels so rejected that she runs away from the flock. She runs into a wolf who tells her that the Shepherd would not even know if she had disappeared. The Shepherd realizes that Agnes is missing and leaves the rest of the flock to find her. Agnes sees that she was foolish to let others make her think that she is not wanted and that the shepherd would abandon her. 

The parable of the lost sheep shows us that God loves us no matter what. He loves us with such fervor that he would die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He knows each and every one of us by our names. We must remember that we are meant to be different. It is good to be different from your neighbor.

Sometimes we feel lost. We may be struggling with the relationships we have with others, things not going our way, and we may even feel abandoned by God. I have learned that many of these struggles happen for a reason. When we ask for kindness, God gives us the opportunity to compliment someone. When we ask for strength, God puts us through the ringer. We are taught to be a more loving friend, a more generous community member, and a more faithful sheep. 

As we grow in our faith, it becomes crucial to remain grounded in who we are: beloved sons and daughters of God. The influence of social media and the news makes it very challenging for us to feel truly loved and have confidence in our faith. There is a constant push and pull in what is “right” and “good,” “wrong” and “evil.”

Being who God intended us to be can most of the time mean not fitting in to what society expects. Jesus loves us just the way we are. We are created to be different, and this reality provides the opportunity to flourish.  Jesus is calling us to Him.

More importantly, He is calling us to use our talents and gifts in service to others. The Fenwick community allows all students, faculty and staff to work together to encourage each other to embrace their talents for the sake of discovering the best versions of themselves. The welcoming environment of this school celebrates the importance of being unique. We are not perfect. We make countless mistakes, yet Jesus continues to love us and forgive us no matter what. You cannot find a love better than His anywhere.

With the new school year ahead of us, and as we continue on the journey to discover our purpose and vocations, I want to remind us again of the quote from St. Catherine of Siena. “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” And, I ask you, what will your fire be? How will you answer God’s call? Remember: You are wanted. You are loved. You do belong. You are a Friar. 

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