Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2022

On Saturday, May 21 in front of historic Alumni Hall, 540 members of the Saint Anselm College class of 2022 were celebrated for academic achievement during the129th Commencement Exercises.

The college’s first graduate school class also received diplomas that day, with 22 students completing a 4+1 Master of Arts inCriminal Justice program.

College President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D., reflected on the recent campus visit by filmmaker Ken Burns, who shared that having doubt leads us to a more reflective life.

We can never abandon our commitment to make citizens who are wise enough to know that doubt is a good thing and humble enough to seek new knowledge as a response to doubt. In a moment when it seems so many know so much about so little, we are in desperate need of such citizens.

— Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.

Video:Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2022 (Livestream Recording)

Video:Class of 2022 Senior Honors Convocation and Baccalaureate Mass (Livestream Recording)

Photos:Class of 2022 Commencement Exercises

Photos:Master's in Criminology and Criminal Justice Hooding Ceremony

Photos:Senior Brunch, Convocation, and Baccalaureate

Speeches and Remarks

President Favazza, Abbot Mark, the Benedictine community, Fr. Stewart, honorary degree recipients, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty and staff, families, friends, and my fellow members of the Class of 2022,

Good morning and thank you for the incredible honor of speaking to you today.

“What was your turning point? When did you realize the significance of your time here at Saint Anselm College?” I was recently asked these questions by one of my professors.

My turning point happened during our very first year here, in my Conversatio class, right over here in Joseph Hall.

My wise professor, Fr. Augustine, had suspected that we were not all completing our assigned Frankenstein readings. On one cold autumn morning at the beginning of class, he gave us a very surprising pop quiz on that day’s assigned passage. My heart raced with anxiety. This was highly unusual for his class.

After we handed in our quizzes, many with shamefully vague answers, or worse, blank pages, Fr. A took a moment and then said to the class very solemnly, “It is a privilege that we get to read Mary Shelley. We get to read a work of art and then come to this nice classroom, where we discuss wonderful ideas in literature and beyond. There are so many people in the world who could never even dream of getting the chance to do what we are doing.”

When he said this to us, I thought about the millions of people who, for a variety of reasons, may never be able to read the works on my syllabi. It became tremendously clear to me how irresponsible it is to skip readings for any class because this habit, over time, would squander the gift of our education. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and my fellow Anselmians, a Saint Anselm education is an extraordinary treasure, arming us to help bring peace to a divided and troubled world.

In a world plagued by so many injustices and immense uncertainty, it is our Catholic and Benedictine education upon which we will build our personal and professional lives in service to others. So many colleges and universities today are solely concerned with manufacturing the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and ambitious professionals. While these things are not bad, by any means, let us recognize the privilege of having attended a school that explicitly emphasizes the dignity of the human person alongside the pursuit of excellence. A nursing program that stresses compassion, a business program that teaches ethics, biology and chemistry programs that express the seeking of Truth—these, along with the faith-seeking-understanding tradition found in every discipline, are what make Saint Anselm so special.

I wrote my senior English thesis on the great poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who said, among other things, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” How clear that sentiment has become to me on our magnificent Hilltop: in the dazzling sunrises and blazing sunsets, the kaleidoscopic windows of the Abbey Church at Mass, the beauty of this campus in all seasons.

Fr. Hopkins also declared: “Christ plays in ten thousand places / Lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.” I have seen this too: in the friendly cheer at our annual gingerbread contest and Christmas feast, the comradery at sporting events, the art of storytelling in our Abbey Player shows, the cordial laughter in late night c shop runs with friends, and yes, in the thrill of hitting “submit” on Canvas at 11:59 pm, after receiving so much encouragement from classmates.

As the Class of 2022, we witnessed the joyful inauguration of our 11th College president, the wonder of the ABC News Democratic debate in February of 2020, and the very next month, we got to see what Saint Anselm College looks like online, full-time!

In our triumphant return to the Hilltop that fall, in the midst of navigating burdensome, albeit successful, COVID protocols, we as upperclassmen were responsible for sharing with new Anselmians the stories of what life on the Hilltop was like before every hallway was one-way. One story that comes to mind is that of the mistakenly stolen ketchup dispenser in c-shop . . . no questions asked.

I hope we never stop sharing stories of our time here and that we go out into the world singing the praises of our alma mater because our Saint Anselm education was never meant to be kept for ourselves. With haste and with joy let us go forth on this sunny, hot day to share the light that has been given to us by our beloved professors, mentors, members of the monastic community, and friends.

On our orientation weekend, no one could have predicted that our college years would include several semesters of Zoom lectures and the ever-present threat of being quarantined in Collin’s House, on top of the usual papers, assignments, and late nights in the library. Aristotle was not joking when he said, “the roots of education are bitter,” but I believe his claim that “the fruits of it are sweet.”

Going forward, I am eager to watch our class achieve the goals that we set for ourselves during our time here. From this class, we may have doctors, lawyers, educators, nurses, businessmen and women, social workers, police officers, scientists, psychologists, journalists—you name it. Mostly, I hope and believe we will have creative and generous human beings. And as we share our talents and education with those around us, let us remember that the Rule of Saint Benedict states: “[our] way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.” And I pray that if life is anything like Conversatio and ever hands us another pop quiz, we will never be unprepared.

Congratulations, Class of 2022! May God bless you all abundantly and guide you on your “Way of Life!”