President John Denning, C.S.C. Speech - Commencement 2015

May 17, 2015


For the first time in decades we are holding commencement under a tent…a very large tent. As the class of 2015 gathered yesterday at noon for practice and later in the afternoon for the Baccalaureate Mass as clouds threatened a shower I could not help but think of this tent as place of shelter and refuge. 

Tents have historically served as shelters and homes.  I think of the Hebrews, after leaving Egypt and as they sojourned in the desert, seeking shelter, and finding home in their tents and knowing that God was with them in their journey.  For us too, tents are used for shelter in times of travel and journey.  And so, in the sojourn of the Class of 2015, we gather in this place on this quad to remember to reflect and especially to recognize your accomplishments and we send you forth confident that you will do much to make our world a more just, and compassionate place.

In looking out I see proud, joyous faces on the families here today. Their love, hard work and sacrifice have all been at the service of you, our graduates, encouraging you on your educational journey.

We are so honored to welcome men and women who embody the mission of this college and who are presented with honorary degrees:

We note

  • the compassion of our speaker Ken Feinberg and the range of causes and people he has helped throughout his life
  • the advocacy of Rev. Liz Walker on behalf of women and children
  • the dedication of Professor Robert Strecker to medical science and to mentoring students
  • the commitment of Arlene McNamee to any who are in need or distress

We are honored to be joined by Bishop DaCunha, the bishop of the Diocese of Fall River.  This is Bishop Da Cunha’s first commencement exercise and we are truly blessed to have him lead this diocese.  This pastoral man has devoted much of his life to the care and well–being of new generations into the United States.  

These individuals, as do go our graduates, embody the  call to service which is so central to Stonehill’s educational mission.

We seek to educate both the mind and the heart and we are committed to helping make our world more just and compassionate.

Over the past four years, I have come to know so many members of this graduating class and that’s my good fortune. Year by year, I have witnessed your own growth in maturity, knowledge, experience, and confidence. With enthusiasm and engagement, you have also worked hard to make Stonehill a better college and community.

Going forward, I am confident you will follow in the footsteps of our civic-minded and generous-hearted honorees. In life, I hope you find joy in helping others, being good and reliable neighbors, serving worthy civic and social causes and giving back in appreciation for all that you have received and pray that you come to know God’s abiding love for you.

I think of the words of an Irish blessing:

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far, and may you always know God’s tender love and compassion as you go forth this day.

Congratulations to you, the Class of 2015, I know you will be such great ambassadors of Stonehill.