Beginnings: September 20 is a big day in Stonehill history. In 1948, it marked the start of classes at the then brand-new Catholic college. In 2013, it marked another new beginning with the inauguration of Fr. John Denning, C.S.C. as the College’s tenth president.
Changes: And how times have changed: 65 years ago, Stonehill welcomed 134 young men to campus. On Friday, there were nearly as many alumni assembled to carry banners: 126 men and women, representing classes from 1952 to 2013.
Transition: “It’s an exciting transition for the College,” said banner carrier Dan Farley ’92. “I’m thrilled for Fr. Denning and I’m thrilled for Stonehill.” Fellow banner carrier Christine Ferretti ’92 added “Today marks a new chapter for Stonehill. I couldn’t pass up the chance to be here.”
Excitement: As Farley, Ferretti and other banner carriers gathered in the Sports Complex before the ceremony, there was a buzz in the air. Excitement and anticipation mounted as the crowd, estimated at more than 2,300, filed in. Students arrived in throngs and very well-dressed, young men in ties and bow ties, and young women in stylish attire. Outside in the foyer, dozens of big, beautiful photos adorned the bulletin boards, showing Fr. John in his natural habitat, talking with students, working on service trips, and celebrating Mass.
Applause: The procession started promptly at 2 p.m. with the parade of classes, followed by the faculty in full academic regalia, then visiting dignitaries from colleges, universities and high schools. When Fr. John entered the field house, just after the Board of Trustees, the crowd rose as one applauding and cheering.
Installation: Once everyone was seated, the ceremony moved along crisply with everything you’d expect. There was music. There were blessings. There were inspirational words from Fr. John himself. There was also business to attend to: Board Chair Thomas May ’69 did the honors, presiding over Fr. John’s installation. When May presented Fr. John with the College seal and charter, the crowd again was on its feet with a hearty, sustained round of applause.
Foregoing Flash: Though the ceremony had all the pomp and circumstance one might expect of an inauguration, there were no over-the-top displays, no fireworks, confetti showers or balloons dropping. Instead, earlier in the week, Fr. John and his senior administration served over 800 students at a Fruit & Yogurt Bar Social in the Roche Dining Commons
Lux et Spes: As the ceremony ended and the dignitaries and visitors filed out, the crowd headed to the Tom and Donna May Pavilion to enjoy refreshments and the chance to meet the new president. At last sighting, Fr. John was right there, shaking hands, thanking well-wishers and spreading a sense of Light and Hope. Lux et Spes.