Steve Drapalik – Director of Campus Ministry
This time of year is always difficult for me as a Campus Minister. It’s that time I have to say goodbye to the many students who have shared their faith journeys with me during the most pivotal time of their lives. This year is no different. When a large group of influential students leave, it can be easy to despair. One thinks back through all the time invested into empowering these leaders and hope that they will continue to flourish in the all-to-often harsh world beyond college.
I imagine all our parents went through a similar experience when each of us left for college. In most likelihood, they reflected on our growth from a tiny infant incapable of crawling to young men and women full of lofty aspirations and ready to take on the world. There must have been so much fear that the morals, examples, and life lessons they tried so hard to pass onto you would be lost during your imminent adventure.
In today’s Gospel, we see two disciples full of despair sullenly heading away from the land in which they had seen, heard, and experienced life-changing events. They were full of doubt and despair seeing that events didn’t quite turn out as expected. They ardently believed that they could trust in God’s goodness and His promises. It isn’t until Jesus meets them on the road to reassure them of his concern for them, prove his love for them, and spends intimate time sharing life with them. The disciples’ hearts were reinvigorated and left “burning within them”.
As you move on toward your own Emmaus to start your future career, family, and vocation, I urge you: remember and don’t lose hope. Life has plenty of slings and arrows, and you will get knocked on your butt more than once. However, our Lord is there. He knows your concerns and He knows well the plans for your welfare. Savor each joyous moment with friends and family; take inventory of times your feel consolation and close to God; and fondly recollect on the joys of your college experience. For these are the tools that will help you keep strong in the wilderness ahead. And when you are at wit’s end and ready to give up, don’t forget the Lord is there ready to hear you in prayer, meet you in the Scriptures, and unite Himself with you in the Eucharist.