May 21, 2011
Story by Barbara LeBlanc
The Most Reverend Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, I.S.P.X., Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, urged graduates of Saint Anselm College to live lives guided by holiness and faithfulness when he spoke at the college's 118th commencement ceremony, during which 440 students received their baccalaureate degrees Saturday.
He said that graduates are more often exhorted to pursue lives of excellence and success, but while those are noble goals, he said, "Faithfulness and holiness will give your life meaning and the intensity to live every day of your life fully."
The archbishop noted that Saint Anselm's graduates represented 28 fields of study and that the world "greatly needs your presence, your skills and the gift of who you are." Learning, however, does not stop with commencement, he said. "The learning that takes place with the reality of life is just starting. The best is yet to come."
Archbishop Lacroix was installed as Archbishop of Quebec in March, after serving as auxiliary bishop since 2009. Born in Quebec, he spent part of his youth in Manchester, where he graduated from Trinity High School and spent his freshman year of college at Saint Anselm. He left to pursue his religious calling.
While urging graduates to listen to the word and voice of Jesus, he suggested that students do not just dream big, but establish a vision and plan for their lives. "Leave the world a better place than you found it," he said.
Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., president of the college, also urged students to find the "strength to listen attentively," which will lead to the companion strength, discernment.
"Discernment means that you can sort out the listening, separating what is worthy of your consideration and what is not, what is truly beautiful from what is not, what is truly good from what is not," he said. "Discernment can lead you to do something about your own prejudices or lack of respect, it can help you to understand that no religion should ever be perverted into an excuse for war or prejudice or intolerance, it can help you to become the fully human person that God intended you to be and for whom Christ himself became a human being."
Student speaker Rebecca Newell, a sociology major from Byfield, Mass., spoke of what she learned from the homeless man she met on a Spring Break Alternative trip to Washington D.C.
"Saint Anselm College has prepared all of us not just to be able to read texts of all kinds, but it has also prepared us to read the world and the challenges it carries. I know that every student sitting here has had an experience outside of the classroom that has shaped them on the fields, in the church, on the stage, or in the streets. Always carry those with you," she said.
Father Jonathan said this year's commencement included the first set of triplets, the Suglias, in anyone's memory. Kara, a business major; Will, a fine arts major, and John, a criminal justice major, are from Andover, Mass.
He also made special mention of Kelly McDonough, a sociology major from Derry, who earned her degree while working full time at the college's Department of Safety and Security. She also volunteered with refugees in Manchester and "become the city's expert in eliminating the problem of bedbugs in the living quarters of the poor," he said.
Beth Salerno, associate professor of history, received the faculty award from the college chapter of the American Association of University Professors during the ceremony. Retiring Professor William Farrell (sociology) was cited for his 54 years of teaching, the longest tenure of any Saint Anselm faculty member. Fr. Peter Guerin, O.S.B., former Dean of the College who now teaches theology, will now work part time rather than full time, Father Jonathan announced.
Four honorary degrees were conferred during the ceremony, to Archbishop Lacroix, immigration lawyer Christopher Lavery, Michael Sheehan, Class of 1982 and CEO of the Boston-based advertising agency Hill Holliday, and Cheryl Donahue Kane, director of nurses and clinical services at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program clinic at the Pine Street Inn, a shelter for the homeless in Boston.