I have found myself to be increasingly sentimental this year.
I spent the beginning of the school year watching lanyard-strung freshmen, in the newest free Tommie T-shirts, herd across campus and remembered when I was doing the same two years ago. I am now a junior! Yet, I am only a junior. It’s a special little niche to be in, noting that many calendar pages have been flipped, but at the same time realizing there is more and more to pay attention to and to value the time I have left at St. Thomas.
I also will spend next semester studying abroad in Rome. It’s already starting to make me a little homesick. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining about studying in such a beautiful and exciting place. I will just miss the people and the campus here.
It’s no surprise, with these things running around in my brain, that the message to be present to those here and now seems very important. My experiences of late even seem to illustrate that. For example, I attended Monsignor James Habiger’s funeral a couple of weeks ago. He lived a good example of being present to St. Thomas and working for its betterment. I didn’t know him personally, but I remember the eager hands that would direct his motorized wheelchair to the back of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas after Masses. He would wave those same hands at the Liturgical Choir in his appreciation for their singing, crinkled eyes and wide smile present as well.
It may seem like a stretch to draw from those instances such a big conclusion, but I saw the large number of people at his funeral, watched his family mourn, heard three eulogies and was inspired. He touched so many lives by supporting social justice, education and the Church. What that came down to was his being with people, reaching out to them in their difficulties and hurts. It was beautiful to get that glimpse of him through the people he left behind, heartened as they were by having known him, and it’s something I’ll remember as I go forward at St. Thomas and into life afterward as well.