Helias Catholic High School's chaplain urged the school's 186 graduates to continue to be open to the gift of the Holy Spirit and to ask themselves how they can better use the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Rev. Stephen Jones spoke Sunday at a packed St. Joseph Cathedral, telling graduates the themes being celebrated during graduation - uncertainty, anticipation, fulfillment and mission - are the themes of Pentecost, which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.
Jones told the graduates the emotions they're feeling are probably similar to those of the first Christians. But he told Christ's promise to teach his disciples everything came true, and the Holy Sprit has the answers for them. "The Holy Spirit is out and about and around us all the time," he said. "He's the response to Jesus' promise."
He told a story about a man in the early 1900s who was active in his church and decided to quit going to Mass. When his priest visited him at home, he told the priest, "I just wanted to let you know, I'm doing just fine spiritually without coming to Mass."
The priest said nothing, then used the fireplace tongs to pull out a flaming ember, which slowly turned black and cool as they both watched. The priest placed the ember back into the flaming bed, "and it immediately sprung to life" and began to burn again.
"The man turned to the priest and said, "Father, I get the message. I see what you mean. I'll be back to Mass on Sunday.'"
He told the graduates: "You and I are the ember. Be open to the promise of God's gift."
In closing remarks, outgoing Helias President Didier Aur said his good-byes to the Class of 2013 by listing the many things he would miss about them.
Aur said 75 students went on mission trips. He said he would miss the 21 seniors who went on the Chicago mission trip.
"I will miss seeing you way out of your comfort zone, discovering a world different than your own," he said. "We went on quite a few mission trips together, and you are the members of the Class of 2013 I know the best.
"Each of you has a piece of my heart."
He listed various other things he would miss, including "the beautiful voices of senior choir members" and "going to the dome" to watch Helias in the state football championships.
"I hope all of you make a positive difference in the world," Aur said. "I hope you leave every place you go better than you found it."
He said he hopes they experience failure at some time in life, "because it shows you're trying to move forward, and not intent with letting life pass you by. And if you do fail, I hope you get up and push even harder."
Aur was given a standing ovation shortly after he told them to "pray, smile and be happy. Surround yourself with good people. And don't forget your family and friends. And keep God close throughout your journey."
Sister Jean Dietrich asked for graduaties who are receiving college scholarships to stand, and nearly all did. She said more than 70 percent of the graduating class has been offered $1.6 million in scholarships, and had accepted more than $900,000.
Most of the scholarships are renewable for four years, she said.