Before most students had stepped into a classroom, they were welcomed to the academic year by the rest of the Calvin College community.
“It’s a great day at Calvin,” said President Michael Le Roy, at the college’s Convocation, “everybody still has an A.”
At the opening ceremony, new students, seated in chairs on the Van Noord Arena floor, are encircled by faculty, staff and returning students, and reminded that they will all be seated together like this one other time during their college careers: Commencement.
In between is a four-year journey.
Knowing the way
Le Roy reflected on that journey in his address “How Can We Know the Way?”
This question that Thomas asks in John 14: 5 is central to us our entire lives, Le Roy said. “I think a lot of us can resonate with Thomas,” he said. “I think he wants a map. Instead, Jesus gives him a path, a journey.”
It is here that Jesus answers, with some of his most frequently quoted words, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Understanding that we are pilgrims on a journey to bring healing to a broken world and that there is no map, there are some things that a Calvin education can provide you with to help you on your way, Le Roy said.
“A Calvin education will provide you with a compass, a coherent, theological world view that will help you know the way; sturdy boots—you will learn resilience; and a walking stick to keep you upright, that is the community of others that will go with you.”
For those who already have some experience along the path, “Calvin will also provide you with guides, who today are gathered all around you, faculty and staff who will walk with you in your studies and in your work,” he said.
What faith is for
Le Roy further challenged the community to think personally about what our faith is for. “We are challenged to be a part of the healing in this world,” he said. “Because of that faith, our mission at Calvin is to equip students to think deeply, to act justly and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.
“The journey with Christ will be challenging and perilous and exhilarating as well,” he said. “Calvin promises to provide you with the proper equipment and excellent guides along the way.”
Following the address, new students were encouraged with words from other newcomers, Sarah Visser, vice president of student life; Micah Watson, professor of political science; and first-year student Diego Galvan.