I graduated from Regis Jesuit High School in 2009, so I was not fortunate enough to be there when Missy Franklin arrived as a freshman. However, I have been assured by students that attend Regis with Missy that she is, in fact, the real deal.
Regis prides itself on creating “men and women for others.” An essential part of this maxim is the idea that whatever you do is not for your own glory, but for the glory of God and your fellow man. Missy provides a wonderful example of how this saying rings true for those who have been fortunate enough to receive a Jesuit education. She is a wonderful swimmer, of course, but it is not her ability that has attracted so much attention and support. It is her belief that she swims for God and for others.
It is apparent that by swimming selflessly, Missy has changed hearts by inspiring people everywhere. She reminds the more jaded among us that pure intentions still exist. Few can argue that her positive influence does not glorify God. Another Jesuit adage is,“Finding God in all things.” Missy finds God in swimming and helps us all see God in something that is as arguably insignificant as sports.
My time at the Jesuit Regis was formative. The Jesuits have a wonderful way of advocating God without forcing Him down your throat. It was in this leadership by example that many people saw the wisdom in the Jesuit philosophy and were consequentially drawn to the religious life. Our school has graduated a surprising number of priests. Less measurable is the fact that practically every Regis grad does his or her best to dedicate whatever it is they do to God.
The Jesuits also managed to connect with many non-believers with their message of fraternity, everyone feels part of a larger community, regardless of creed. This community provides a source of external power and allows for anyone to become a man or woman for others.
Missy Franklin does Regis Jesuit High School alumni like me a huge service by reminding us that it is possible to dedicate any path to God and to find a deeper meaning in whatever you do. Missy has inspired me to recommit to my Jesuit values and to remember that any success I achieve would not be possible without my Jesuit education or God’s grace.
So Missy, I regret not getting the chance to meet you, but I thank you for being a true woman for others and reminding Jesuit students everywhere what it’s all about.