Fr. John Welcomes the Class of 2017

May 21, 2017

College President Fr. John Denning, C.S.C. welcomed the Class of 2017 to the ranks of Stonehill graduates at the College's 66th Commencement ceremony. Below are his full remarks:

In his remarks this past Easter, Pope Francis spoke about Seeds of Hope and how people who put themselves at the service of others make our world a better place. As we celebrate Commencement today, we are blessed to have with us women and men, seeds of hope, who give of themselves in service to others.

Bishop Colgan’ s devotion to grassroots community involvement with those who are burdened due to geographic, social or economic issues sets a profound example for us all. He lives next to his neighbors and shares in their daily struggles. Humble and understated, he has spent his life helping his parishioners secure better housing, access to healthcare, and educational opportunities. And, he has done this all while doing God’s work with a joyful heart.

JoAnn Burton has five children of her own, but given the reach of the Burton Training Village, she has touched the lives of hundreds of young people. JoAnn did not confine her caring just to her family, but found a way to share love, peace, patience, and humility with so many. Focused on good decision-making and the importance of positive influences, she and her family created a structure that provides opportunity and hope for many, including those have graduated from Stonehill or currently attend the College.

Bob Simpson is a pioneer in medical supply distribution and has achieved amazing professional accomplishments. But rather than stop there, he has used his skills as a seed of hope, helping children with surgical needs in under-served areas around the world get the care they truly need. He intervened and rallied others to support these young people, so they would find relief from their suffering, and in turn showed us all how career and compassion can combine to great effect.

Award-winning journalist, Anne Thompson, credits her Holy Cross education at the University of Notre Dame with giving her the ability to tell a compassionate story and to appreciate that the world is not all about you, but about others. In a business that can be self-seeking, she once noted that her Catholic education has kept her humble and focused outward, not inward. This is certainly demonstrated in the sense of integrity and character that she brings to her work as a news correspondent, in turn offering us all a clearer, more empathetic understanding of the challenges we all face.

Our graduates, during their time at Stonehill, have also distinguished themselves as seeds of hope by their sense of community, compassion, and fairness. Responding to the recent tragic death of Linsey Malia, a junior who was studying in Denmark, senior Colleen MacDonald took the lead in representing her peers in remembering Linsey and providing her a fitting tribute.

At a prayer service in the Chapel of Mary, Colleen described Linsey as a burst of sunshine, someone whose positive spirit inspired others by setting an example of how to make the most of your education, help others, and enjoy the journey of exploration.

In addition, with others, she invited students, faculty, and staff to decorate pathways across campus with chalk tributes to Linsey. For two days our pathways became a beautiful canvas of words and images recalling the impact that this one student had on the life of our community. Colleen’s initiative and thoughtfulness brought campus together in sadness and in celebration.

Colleen put herself at the service of others and she is not alone.  

This past December, Allison Faraclas organized a thought provoking conference on the issues that people with disABILITIES face and how we can create a more inclusive world.

And, Tommy Farrell, a student-athlete, recently rallied our community members to hold our first Rock-a-Thon, which raised close to $7,000 for the Make a Wish Foundation.

Members of the Class of 2017, in your own distinct ways, you have been seeds of hope here on campus. I am confident you will do the same after graduation in your communities and your professions. I wish God’s blessing on everything you do. As you go forward, I pray that you may know God’s merciful love for you and that you might always have the courage to think of your neighbor and be a seed of hope in our world.

And may our Lady, Queen of the Summit, watch over you in her love. Amen.