Catholic writer and theologian George Weigel recently told the graduating class of the University of Dallas in Irving, Tex., that they have the task of “giving the West a new birth of freedom rightly understood,” according to National Review Online.
Renowned for his biographies on Pope St. John Paul II, Weigel reportedly told students that the beloved Saint believed that this generation could lead a “cultural renewal.”
Weigel’s commencement address, in part, reads:
John Paul II’s confidence in young people was a happy by-product of his early years in the priesthood — when he was a university chaplain in Cracow in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in a country choking on the acrid fumes of Stalinism after being beaten for over five years by the lethal scourges of German National Socialism. With the young men and women he met at the Cracow Polytechnic, the Cracow Academy of Music, the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts, and other institutions of higher learning in that beautiful city, young Father Karol Wojtyła formed remarkable networks of friendship and solidarity that lasted for more than half a century. The lay friends Father Wojtyła made in those years remained among his closest friends until his death in 2005. And as he helped form his young friends into mature Christian men and women, preparing them for the vocation of marriage or helping them discern vocations to the priesthood or religious life, they helped form him into one of the most dynamic priests, and later one of the most dynamic bishops, of the Church.
…The networks of friendship Father Karol Wojtyła created with young people — young people very much like you — were zones of freedom and zones of truth in a world of tyranny and lies. Here, Wojtyła’s young friends met the great minds and spirits of western civilization: just as you have done at the University of Dallas. Here, in these zones of truth and freedom, Wojtyła’s young friends learned compassion and charity and the dignity of every human life, at all stages of life and in all conditions of life: just as you have done at the University of Dallas. Here, in the free space for free conversation created by the openness of Father Karol Wojtyła, the man who would become pope, Wojtyła’s young friends learned to live their lives, not simply as a matter of “career,” but as a matter of vocation, discerning that unique something that God has in mind for every human life: just as you have begun to do at the University of Dallas.
…If the generation of which this Class of 2014 is a part is going to meet the challenge of giving America, and the West, a new birth of freedom, it will do so because it becomes a generation of saints: well-educated, thoughtful, and articulate saints; compassionate and merciful saints; saints for the new millennium who refuse to surrender to the tyranny of low expectations, personal and public; saints in the image of the young Pole who never imagined himself pope, but whom the Church and the world now know as Pope St. John Paul II.
University of Dallas is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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