Loras Class of 1996: Homecoming reflection

This Homecoming, reflect on what we have gained and lost.  Think of all that we have gained in 20 years — life experience, world travels, perspective. Many have gained a spouse, children, career success, satisfaction from helping others. We owe so much to our start at Loras College.

Maybe you met your spouse here. Maybe you learned job skills that catapulted you to the top of your career. Maybe you took a service trip that gave you inspiration. Maybe you gained the confidence to just move forward with your life.

Many of us have lost. Some of us sadly have lost one or both parents, a child, a spouse, siblings or friends. So many of our Loras friends have died. Cancer, violence, disease, they’ve taken our classmates.

We’ve lost jobs, lost touch, and in some cases, lost our way.  Hopefully you have not lost your dreams. Have hope for what you can still accomplish in your life. Have hope in the opportunity of each new day.

You have a great gift — the gift of a Loras education. You have unmatched knowledge and lifelong friends who support you. You have the deep belief that there is more waiting for you.

20 years later, we might not able to hear a favorite professor’s voice echoing through the hall. We won’t spend a snowy February day holding a mock convention. We can’t perfectly recreate the cheesy goodness of Beef Loras. We don’t have the energy to stay up all night or the opportunity to make friends as easily as we did in the confined world of Loras College.

What we can do is gauge the mark Loras made on our life. When you work with a business colleague who can’t see the full perspective, you appreciate your liberal arts education. When a team needs help, you jump in. When there’s an election, you vote. When you’re asked to volunteer, you do.

Your days at Loras helped you give more grace to others. Here you learned all the words to Taste and See, to volunteer, donate and serve your church.

Loras taught you to build community: you can wear purple and gold, celebrate Dionysia, and share the answer to “what’s a Duhawk?”

Times have changed. Dorms no longer have phone cords stretched to the hallway for a “private” call. Students obtain class materials from the internet in their room. Students don’t need to go to the social scene that was “studying” at the Wahlert Library.

You have changed, but your roots can still be nurtured at Loras. Your foundation is in Christ the King, the Grotto, the Rock Bowl, classrooms and Alumni Campus Center.  It is in the memories of the people, places and experiences of your time at Loras.

It’s been 20 years. We have more life knowledge to understand each other. Forgive someone you think wronged you in college; they were probably oblivious that they offended you. Say hi to that person you thought was a jerk; he may have been very introverted or dealing with a lot going on in life.

Really, we’re all dealing with a lot, whether we let on or not. Medical problems from infertility to cancer, disease and depression. Challenges with family, friends, addiction and recovery, job stress or job loss. Unruly children or the rapidly closing window to have children.

Give each other grace in Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy. Share a smile, share a toast, return a hello, return a hug. Celebrate that we’re here — and the memories that started so many years ago at Loras College.

Like the Prodigal Son, you are always welcomed home at Loras. Whether alone walking the familiar campus pathways or surrounded in celebration with your longtime friends, you are home.

Pause to reflect on all you have gained. Give thanks. Celebrate. In addition to all of the selfies and group shots you’ll take this weekend, also take a mental picture to add Homecoming 2016 to your memories of Loras.

Penny Emke Gralewski was the news editor of The Lorian in 1994-1995 and 1995-1996.

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