Master of Arts in Ministry Commencement address: ‘Without cost you are to give’

It is a joy to be here in the beautiful chapel of St. John’s Seminary. The Beloved Disciple leaned close to our Lord and learned from him in the intimacy of communion. Then he became the Evangelist--living out his days preaching and teaching the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus commissioned the Twelve he said, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

You have received. You are gifted, each one with God-given talents: gifted with families, friends and communities that love and support you; gifted to have spent these semesters with students, faculty and administration in the MAM program; gifted with a depth of faith; a breadth of spirituality; pastoral tools and the teachings of the Church. You have received.

You are to give... without cost, freely, generously, lovingly to your brothers and sisters, to friends and strangers, to the Church and to the world... you are to freely and generously give the wisdom, the spiritual riches and the splendor of the truth you have received.

The Spirit of God, who came upon the disciples after the risen Lord’s ascension to glory, has come into your life, has confirmed and strengthened your faith, has united you more closely with the Church, and will lead you from the font of prayer and learning out into the cities and towns, into the parishes, schools, hospitals and service agencies, into the world, prepared with the arts of ministry for a life of service.

Whether you serve in parish, diocese, health care, youth and young adult or campus ministry, wherever the Spirit leads you and the Church calls you, remember that Jesus Christ is the source of ministry. It is his three-fold ministry of priest, prophet and king that he invites us to share in.

Vatican II’s ‘‘Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People’’ says,

“To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing in his name and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ; they have, therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God.”

And ‘‘The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’’ teaches,

(The laity) “...have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.”

You have received, and so you are to give.

The Church has great need of your gifts. Cardinal Seán has asked us all to help rebuild the Church in Boston. Rebuilding trust; rebuilding community; rebuilding a sense of the sacred in our lives; rebuilding a culture of life; rebuilding a zeal for faith; rebuilding a desire to serve; rebuilding a spirit of evangelism that set on fire the hearts of those first disciples who went out to spread the Good News.

Cardinal Seán recently spoke of moving from maintenance to mission. He said,

“Our task is to turn consumers into disciples and disciple-makers. We need to prepare men and women who witness to the faith and not send people into the witness protection program. As the U.S. Bishops wrote in Go Make Disciples: ‘Every Catholic can be a minister of welcome, reconciliation, and understanding to those who have stopped practicing the faith.’”

To be a minister of welcome: What you have received, you are to give. May God give you, Masters of Arts in Ministry, the grace to be ministers of welcome for your brothers and sisters. May our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, in whose month you commence forth to give what you have received, help you with her prayers and keep you under the mantle of her protection. Through Christ our Lord.

Congratulations to the Class of 2009!

Father Foley is Secretary and Episcopal Vicar for Parish Life and Leadership for the Archdiocese of Boston.