On behalf of our graduates, their families and friends, the administration and faculty of the College: I want to express our deep gratitude for your presence here today and for sharing with us the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield which has guided the mission of the College of Our Lady of the Elms since its foundation in 1928.
We are delighted that in their name you accepted our honorary doctorate as a sign of our deep gratitude as we celebrate our 85th year.
The themes of your address are familiar to this class: the pursuit of justice and peace, caring for the most vulnerable, reaching out to our dear neighbor, living the gospel. It is very meaningful to all of us that the last message they hear as they graduate is a reminder of the values that have guided their education here.
On behalf of our entire community, I thank you not only for the message you shared, but, more importantly, for your life and the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph that gives personal meaning to your message. May the good work of the congregation continue for many years, and may you be encouraged by knowing you have the support and prayers of the Elms community.
Bishop McDonnell, you honor us by accepting your honorary doctoral degree. The College and the diocese have been linked since the beginning, often with the Bishop serving as President of the College. As you approach your retirement, it is fitting that through this degree, we link you forever to us officially. (You will be constantly reminded because every alum receives an annual fund solicitation every year.) But, more importantly, your life of service, love of Church, and giving of self, represent our hopes for the future of every one of our graduates.
And, now, to the Class of 2013... In just a few minutes you will complete the circle of your educational goals and move from student status to that of alumni. By awarding you a diploma today, your faculty has determined that you have completed all the requirements of your degree. Upon their recommendation, the Board of Trustees, seated behind me has approved this award. There is still a few minutes left and they are watching you, so, be careful...
This is a milestone day...for those graduating, of course, but, also for the many people behind the scenes who share with you the joy of this moment; Parents, who sacrificed financially and in so many other ways, spouses and friends, who prepared meals, typed papers, watched the children so you could study, donors who provided scholarships and financial aid, your faculty and staff who helped you get beyond the difficult moments along the way, and so many others.
I know you have learned that faith, family, and friends are, perhaps, the greatest gifts life offers. Be sure you take a moment to say thank you to all who are gift to you.
Some of you are the first in your family to receive a college degree. What a great achievement. Some of you have traveled here from distant lands to find a better life. All of you have accomplished a milestone that even today is achieved by only a small portion of our population.
And, speaking of thanks, I want to spend my final moment with you expressing the gratitude of all of us to you. You leave this College a better institution because of your many contributions in the classroom, in sports, in service to others, and in just being the fine people you are. You and I came together in fall 2009. I remember how anxious some of you were, and, I tried not to let you know that I was even more anxious. I have taken personal pride in watching you grow and I feel great pride in seeing you graduate.
We really do not want to say good-bye, but, the moment you have worked for so long and hard is at hand. You are ready to take all that you have learned here and to make sure that this gift of a college education makes a difference, that it makes a difference for you, and for the next generation who are counting on you to help create a more just and a more peaceful world.
I leave you with a salute from all of us for a job well done and with best wishes for much happiness and success and a quote from our neighbor Dr. Seuss to take with you:
You are now on your own
You know what you know
You now get to decide wherever you'll go.
Happy travels to you, our newest alumni.