President, Saint Anselm College Alumni Association
My name is Kate Mahan. I am a proud member of the Class of 2002 and have the honor and privilege of serving as the current president of the Alumni Association. On behalf of the more than 21,000 Anselmian alumni, it is my great pleasure to welcome Dr Joseph Favazza, Dr. Paddy Favazza and the entire Favazza family into our Anselmian family.
I think I can say, with at least some degree of confidence, Dr. Favazza has likely spent a fair amount of time being inundated with well-meaning attempts to describe just how special a place Saint Anselm is – There is so much love and pride for this place, for this community, its hard to hold back – hard to not at least try to explain. But how do you distill what it is to be Anselmian into mere words? Surely one could describe an extraordinary passion for service and compassion for others. And just as equally perhaps, the unwavering drive and work ethic instilled in all of us to succeed in our chosen fields… maybe it’s the cumulation of memories of time spent here –smiles as we remember Coffee shop calzones, long nights studying, humanities lectures, cheering for our favorite Hawk teams – maybe even a misadventure or two. Or maybe we point to a day like September 11, 2001 –the start of my senior year - when the whole world changed in a matter of minutes and yet this entire Anselmian community – and I mean the entire campus - did what it does best -we came together in the Abbey Church, we talked, we prayed, and we were there for each other. How many of us would simply say, Saint Anselm is home?
Anselmians talk about being Anselmian --and what it means to be Anselmian -- as if the term is innately understood and no definition is needed. I love that about this place, because – as funny as it sounds – it is inherently understood by those who have had Saint Anselm touch their lives in some way. And yet there is no one definition, word or phrase that matches the indelible mark that is Anselmian. I think that is because being Anselmian is so deeply personal. Yes, we all have Saint Anselm College – this place - in common, but every experience is unique. It makes it a little difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been here. It’s this ethereal thing - mostly you cannot put your finger on it, but sometimes something will happen and you’ll think – there it is… that’s Anselmian.
Michael Sheehan, from the Class of 1982, the former Chief Executive Officer of The Boston Globe gave his definition of Anselmian during his Commencement address a few years ago to the Class of 2016. He said it took him 37 years to be able to define what Anselmian means to him. In his speech, he mentioned service, kindness, and compassion as the defining characteristics of being Anselmian. I think all of us are nodding our heads in agreement. But, then he went on to describe a few experiences in his life, including his immediate actions after the Boston Marathon bombings with the One Fund Boston Relief efforts, as well as witnessing Saint Anselm nursing alumni care for his dying father. Those two experiences further refined his definition, he said, “For me, serving other people, more specifically helping them heal, is what it means to be an Anselmian”. He went on to say, “Any college can and should prepare you to go out and be passionate about pursuing a successful career. But there are precious few schools that prepare you to be compassionate as well. Saint Anselm most definitely is one of them.”
I could not agree with Mr. Sheehan more. I recently had the distinct pleasure of recognizing some of our own at the Alumni Awards Dinner for the remarkable things they have done. Whether it be a long career in nursing, or a successful lawyer and recovering alcoholic who strives daily to help others in his community, or an alumna whose husband, also an alum, died in the tower attacks, but whose legacy – through his family – has been the impetus to bring together and support and build up a community --- All of these people embody in their daily lives what it means to be Anselmian.
For me, as I ponder my fast approaching – far too fast approaching – 20th reunion – I still struggle to put my finger on it – that word that perfectly describes what it means to be Anselmian. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get to that perfect definition. But as I look out at so many Anselmians here today, I know that we are each living, breathing representations of what it means to be Anselmian- maybe it is not easy to define, and maybe it is different in each of us but it’s there.
And so, Dr. Favazza, I stand here today representing the 21,472 definitions of Anselmian and what it means to be an Anselmian. And I have a feeling you will come to your own definition, as you interact with every Anselmian - the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who make Saint Anselm College such a special place.
On behalf of the 21,472 Saint Anselm alumni, welcome to the Hilltop.