Marywood's 98th Commencement ~ Class of 2016

May 14, 2016

Sister Andrea, thank you for your wonderful address and for being such an outstanding role model for our graduates. I think it’s particularly important that our new graduates see the benefits and the value of a liberal arts education in action. We share an educational and spiritual legacy inspired by the example of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who believed that each person should be given the opportunity to realize his or her God-given potential. This bold vision empowered the IHM Sisters to establish Marywood 100 years ago, and it continues to thrive and move through each generation, always with an eye toward the future.

Sister Andrea, your willingness to learn and to grow at every stage of life and your ability to lead with compassion and to enthusiastically take on new challenges also reflect that great Alphonsian spirit—you are truly remarkable. We’d like to show our appreciation for your inspiring words and example with another round of applause.

And now, I would like to address a few thoughts directly to our graduates.

Dear graduates, at Marywood University, we have endeavored to educate, inspire, and challenge you, so that the reality of who you’ve become is built on the three pillars of our motto—Sanctitas, Scientia, Sanitas—Holiness, Knowledge, and Health. Your experiences have been transformed by the knowledge you have pursued and gained; by the people you have met—many of whom, I am certain, are now your lifelong friends; by the goals you have set and achieved; by the encouragement of family, friends, and faculty; and by other life events and decisions that have somehow influenced, inspired, and guided you to this day.

As you commemorate this important occasion, reflect on all those who have supported, loved and mentored you throughout your years of study. Some of them are here with you. Some of them are only here in spirit. Let us take a moment to express thanks for all the family members, faculty, staff, friends and classmates who have journeyed with you to this significant moment of endings and beginnings.

One hundred years of spirited leadership and bold vision have set the course for Marywood’s second century of education and service. The Class of 2016 has built on that legacy of progress with its many significant accomplishments.

I want to encourage you to always nurture your love of learning, but, most especially, your creative spirit. You don’t have to be an artist or musician to be creative. Any person educated in the liberal arts tradition can and should draw from the well of imagination inherent within. Every profession needs creative, vibrant people who can see beyond problems to imagine solution-oriented possibilities. From the scientist to the social worker, this world needs professionals with intellects fired by imagination, theories informed by research, and practitioners guided by compassionate hearts.

Writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” All of you are well prepared and remarkably gifted. You have enjoyed success in completing your studies, and I am certain that your future goals will raise the bar of excellence even higher. My hope is that you will continue always to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams, and live the life you have imagined”—blessed and as a blessing.

Know that you leave here today with more than just a diploma; you carry within you skills and abilities that will serve you well throughout life. You have learned to think, act, serve, and lead beyond yourself. Your Marywood education has given you that vital framework to experience and demonstrate the kind of head and heart leadership that this world needs now, perhaps more than ever.

Each of you is at a new threshold of discovery. My prayer for you this day, as you literally step into your future is best expressed by the Celtic poet, John O’Donohue:

May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul.

May you realize that you are never alone,

that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you

intimately with the rhythm of the universe.

May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.

May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have

          a special destiny here,

          that behind the façade of your life there is something

          beautiful, good, and eternal happening.

May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,

          and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

Congratulations, and may God bless all of you abundantly!