Bishop Shawn McKnight urged the graduates of Helias Catholic High School to live their lives as servants of God and their fellow man.
McKnight, who became bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City in February, gave the keynote address as Helias graduated 178 seniors Sunday at Rackers Fieldhouse.
"As the disciples were sent out into the world from behind locked doors, so too you are being sent forth from Helias."
God's gift of the Holy Spirit brings a transformation of how Christians look at the world and see one another, he said.
"As disciples of Jesus Christ, we live not for ourselves, but for him. We live for his church. We live for others.
"God has a plan of hope for each one of you," he said. He asked that the Lord "preserve in your hearts a sense of gratitude in all things, in good times and in bad."
McKnight said that with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the hearts of the disciples were transformed with the power of God's love.
"We, too, are called to a transformation of heart and mind from a sense of entitlement to a spirit of generosity," he said.
McKnight told them their graduation marked the accomplishments of not only them but "so many people who have made sacrifices for you to arrive at this great occasion. To them, we owe a debt of gratitude."
He said the graduates can honor them with what they do with their education at Helias.
McKnight told the graduates that in a world marred by violence, hate and war, they have the opportunity to shine a light by "taking up the cause for those who are most vulnerable, most defenseless, most in need."
Principal Kenya Fuemmeler touted the class's accomplishments, including a state championship in volleyball and pole vault and top three finishes at state in girls' cross country, dance, boys' golf and academic team. The class also had an archer in the top five nationally. The school has a Missouri top 100 student and has 23 students with an ACT score above 30. Two qualified for the Caterpillar diesel mechanic program. One student plans to enter the seminary.
Fuemmeler said the class performed more than 18,000 hours of service during their high school careers and have accepted more than $1.4 million in scholarships.
The commonality of the achievements is their Catholic faith, she said.
"While the diverse interests and talents of our students make Helias a great school, it is our common mission for all members of our community to grow closer to the Lord every day that makes our school an exceptional Catholic school," Fuemmeler said.
She advised the seniors to "never forget to act with integrity and virtue in both your private and public life. Never stop fighting for those values within your community."
She urged them to say "yes" to the Lord's plans for their lives.
"I hope you leave our school with the faith, a kind heart, and the courage to be a difference-maker," she said.