My name is Ben Horton, I currently serve as the Chair of the Saint Anselm College Staff Council, and I have been a member of the Saint Anselm College community for over 30 years.
Scratch that---Saint Anselm College has been home for me for over 30 years. In fact, I was born on August 1, right smack dab in the middle of the celebration of the centennial of the chartering of the Order of Saint Benedict of New Hampshire- So, suffice it to say, that Saint Anselm has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember-and before that too!
On such an exciting and monumental occasion in the history the College, as we say “welcome home” to the Favazza family, the following is a reflection on what it means to call Saint Anselm College home:
In a recent meeting amongst college staff members, Dr. Susan Gabert asked a small group of us to what extent mission, Catholic identity, and community played into our decisions to work at Saint Anselm College. She went around the table, and when she got to me, I responded quickly and simply by saying “It is the most important factor in my choosing to work here.” Sue, being the wonderful dialogue leader she is, responded with a simple “why? Help us to unpack that… I paused, caught my breath, and finally sputtered out- “Because this isn’t a job” Sue nodded supportively—“What do you mean by that?” she asked “Umm...Ah…I can’t explain it.” I replied…Unable to find the words to express my love for the place that has formed me, challenged me, and inspired me all these years.
A few hours later, another staff member, who had been in the room, gave me perhaps the perfect analogy to describe my feelings. He said “I got what you meant in there…It’s like, you can’t explain it, but if the place were on fire—you would run back in and try to save it.” ----
Yes, Dave, that’s exactly what I meant. You see, for people who “get it,” people who understand what this place is all about, you don’t need to explain it. And for people who don’t know Saint Anselm, or don’t understand it, you can’t explain it.
For 130 years, Saint Anselm has stood as a force for good in the world. A place where what is true, what is right, and what is good is celebrated and fostered. A place where the innate dignity of every person is embraced. “Ora et Labora”-prayer and work, a fundamental motto of the Benedictine order, is the central guiding principle upon which this community is built. Amongst our College’s wonderful staff, there is a commitment to “go the extra mile” to “drop everything to help a student” and to do “whatever it takes” for Saint Anselm. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently noted: “Our labor is a participation in God’s ongoing work of creation. So, we can all see our jobs, however trivial and unimportant they may seem in the moment, to be something good, noble and divine.
As we embrace a new day in the history of Saint Anselm College, I think back to the words of Saint Anselm’s 7th President- Fr. Brendan Donnelly O.S.B., upon the occasion of his own inauguration. Fr. Brendan was a humble and thoughtful man who contributed to the Saint Anselm College we know and love in many ways, most notably, perhaps, in welcoming women to campus as Saint Anselm became the first Benedictine College to transition to a fully coeducational institution. Forseeing immense challenges and change over the course of the coming decade, upon his appointment to the presidency, a reluctant and humbled Fr. Brendan remarked:
“We must never fail to recognize that we move forward on the shoulders of those who have gone before us…I know it is not only my personal desire, but the desire of all of us, to do the best we can with what we have for this distinctive Catholic education…”
These words of Fr. Brendan are, no doubt, still so meaningful for us, as today, we too move forward on the shoulders of giants and remember who we are and what this place is about.
I can say on this day, and I know my fellow staff members and alumni can say, that we are proud to be Anselmians. Here in this place, on this Hilltop, what is true, what is right, and what is just always wins.
Today is a new day, a bright, shining, new day for Saint Anselm College. Let us all work together- faculty, staff, students, alumni-to realize the vision our forebears created 130 years ago. Let us continue to work together to create a community centered upon respect, compassion, and integrity. Where intellectual pursuits are celebrated and where education of mind and heart go hand in hand.
That’s what Saint Anselm is all about.
Quite simply put, this place is magic-Let us join together to keep the Anselmian magic alive for the next 130 years!
And so, as, here on campus, we all prepare to celebrate family weekend together--- Joe and Paddy, we welcome you to our family. Our Anselmian family- a family-- built upon the same foundations of all strong families- built upon faith and prayer, truth and beauty, kindness and compassion, and built upon a genuine desire to advance the intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth of the next generation.
I know I speak on behalf of all of the staff of the college when I say, “welcome to our family- welcome home.”
And, I want you to know that the people around you sitting in this audience today would literally run through fire for this place.