We are told that here in Ireland one of our most common nightmares is thinking that we are back doing our Leaving Cert once more. It is probably a reflection of how stressful and anxious a time it was for many of us. Our whole future seemed to hang on those two weeks in June. Our worse fear was of our mind going blank or the topics we had studied not appearing on the exam paper. At this time of year those memories make us mindful of young people about to face into their exams
over the coming weeks. We wish them well and we promise them that they will be very much present in our prayers throughout the month.
Last year I attended the 30 Year Reunion of my Leaving Cert Class. It was lovely to catch up with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. But what stayed with me most from that night was how each of us has found our own path in life. Our Leaving Cert neither defined us nor did it determine our future. People found a way to pursue what they wanted in life. Life presented opportunities that we could neither have foreseen nor imagined. It turns out that the Leaving Cert was not the’ be all and end all’ that we once imagined. It was one step, an important one, on a journey with many other steps and many twists and turns. Yes, for many of us it determined our next step in life but it did not shape the entire journey. That depended on ourselves, our willingness to work hard, to apply ourselves and not to give up on what we really wanted in life. Perseverance and character were what shaped our journey most.
And so, as you prepare for your exams, I say to you: Believe in yourselves, trust in the work you have done, stay calm and give of your best. No one can ask anything more of you. Support one another and encourage your friends who may be anxious or nervous. Remember that there is life after the Leaving Cert! Whatever door it opens for you later this summer is but the first of many doors and opportunities that life will hold out to you. Look to the future with hope. We all wish you well. Fr Seán