BETHANY, W.Va. – During the annual Bethany College baccalaureate service, Jason Charron, Ukrainian Catholic Church pastor, challenged the class of 2022 to build their foundation on solid character.

In an address titled, “The Divine Plower: How years of God Planting and Watering Your Soul Prepares You for Greatness,” Charron told students that character is key to their success.

“My friends, as you leave this hallowed campus as so many have before you, this is what is put before you,” Charron said. “It is not education – it is the challenge of character.”

Charron is the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wheeling, W.Va., and Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, Pa.

The pastor recently traveled to Ukraine in the company of a parishioner who set out to fulfill a promise of adoption he had made to an orphaned child there.

When they arrived, Charron said he contacted the orphanage director.

“I said, ‘We are here to rescue a little girl,’ and I gave the name,” Charron said. “[The director] said, ‘I am responsible not for one little orphan but for 22. If you take the one you must take the 22.’ So, I said ‘We’ll do it.’”

In the end, the pair escorted the orphans and their adult caretakers from the war-torn nation.

Charron shared a story from longtime talk show host Phil Donahue, who had a reputation for viewing clergy as out for attention.

However, Donahue shared in his biography the respect he had for a clergyman he encountered while covering a disaster in West Virginia.

Donahue witnessed a pastor praying with people and wanted to record the moment; however, the camera wouldn’t work in the cold temperatures. When Donahue asked the pastor to repeat the prayer, the man refused, saying the prayer had already occurred.

Charron said the attention he received after his trip to Ukraine gave him pause.

“I didn’t do it seeking any attention,” he said. “It was simply the right thing to do that was presented at the right time before me.”

Such moments – big and small – appear throughout life, Charron said.

“In your life – just like the life of the nation of Ukraine right now – your moment of trial and affliction will be your greatest hour,” he said. “It is during moments of affliction – moments of trial and difficulty – that you will have no other choice than to dig down deep and rely on the word that God has planted in your heart.”

Borrowing the words of American evangelist D.L. Moody, Charron said, “Character is who you are in the dark.”

The choices one makes away from the spotlight are the defining ones, he explained.

“What are you about?” Charron asked. “The coming years of your life – in the trials and the moisture of life – and all of these things will be to the good of the seed that has been planted. The opportunities will present themselves and the thought that you respond to these opportunities in life – difficulties, triumphs, celebration, sorrow – that through each of them you will be able to use those occasions to plow the soil of your heart and to water the soil of your heart with tears of joy and tears of sorrow so that you will be able to respond and produce an abundance of harvest of good works and character.”

About Bethany College

Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.