President’s Welcome Address to the Student Body

2017-2018 School Year

September 15, 2017

“I would like to begin today by stating how excited I am about this opportunity to become part of the story of Bishop McDevitt High School.  And I am highly cognizant of what a profound gift this opportunity is to me at this point in my life.  To be sure, this position is the job I have aspired to since I was basically your age.  A fact that now reveals to you all how big a nerd I am.

I am here today to talk about that story, your story.  In fact, I will argue that my fundamental assignment here at Bishop McDevitt is to help us tell our story.  That story is the story of your “joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties “(to quote Gaudium et Spes).  It is the story of your triumphs and failures.  And your achievements and your dreams.   It is a story deeply intertwined with each of your biographies.  To be sure, Bishop McDevitt will always be part of your story going forward.  And you will always be part of its story too.

This story, however, is also the story of your teachers who show up here every day committed to providing each of you a path to opportunity.  It is the story of the administrators here at Bishop McDevitt who work to create a culture where each of you feel safe and supported.  It is the story of the support staff who create an environment where you can be focused on learning and growing.

(Indeed, it is this part of our story that is all too often overlooked because Bishop McDevitt would not be able to function without their efforts.)

But this story is not just the story of the students who learn here and employees who work here.  It is also, and equally, the story of the generations of alumni who walked these halls, who learned and laughed, struggled and cried, just like you all do now.  It is the story of the wealth of lay and religious individuals who have served this institution for the last 60 years.  It is the story of the those individuals and organizations who have partnered and supported Bishop McDevitt over the years, making sure this school not only exists but is able to grow and innovate.

And this story is the story of the Church.  A Church that is alive and present in this world today.  Bishop McDevitt High School is one of countless examples of the risen Christ come alive in our world.  Every day we tell our story, we also tell that story.  The story of the Christ.

As the Gospel of Matthew teaches us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  (Mt 18:20)

Over the coming months I will be asking each of you to meet with me one-on-one so that I can hear from you why this story matters.  The reason for this is twofold.  First, I am really excited to meet the students at Bishop McDevitt.  I have been away from academia for the last 5 years and I sorely miss speaking with and working with students.  The second reason is that I cannot tell our story without knowing your story.  The incredible thing about the Christian message is that it is simultaneously singular and manifold.  It is the story of the Christ come alive to reveal and define God’s love.  And, it is also the story of every act of love done in His name.

At the University of Notre Dame there is a 14-story mural of Jesus.  You probably know it as “Touchdown Jesus,” but the artwork is actually titled “The Word of Life.”  It depicts a procession of figures representing Christian saints, thinkers, teachers, and writers surrounding Jesus with his arms extended toward Heaven.  It is an amazing and truly awe inspiring work of art and adulation.  And it is also a mosaic.

In fact, it is 132 feet high and 65 feet wide and contains 81 types of stone from 16 countries.  To create a mosaic of that size it literally takes thousands of individual pieces.  Each piece unique, and yet together they create a singular image and tell a story – a story capable of transforming individuals and the world.

So I am here today to ask your help.  I am here to ask each of you to think about our story.  And I want each of you to work with me to better tell that story.  As we move forward together in this next chapter of the Bishop McDevitt story, I am challenging each of you to become storytellers focused on helping the world outside these school walls know why Bishop McDevitt matters.  I want you to help me tell the world your story.  And our story.”

-Dr. Matthew Powell