Good afternoon. Great to see so many of you as we begin the 73rd academic year at Stonehill College.

First, I want to thank Kemuel, president of the senior class, for the presentation of the heart-shaped shovel. What a thoughtful reflection of compassion and empathy for the Class of 2022.

I look forward to how our seniors will lead the student body, as caring and attentive mentors to the Class of 2025.

And to our first-year students, welcome. I know I speak for everyone here today in saying that we hope you find a home here at Stonehill, and I look forward to seeing how you will contribute to this community of scholarship and faith.

I also want to thank Professor Michael Mullen for challenging his students to see that rigor and effort lead to opportunity and success. And congratulations to Professor Pamela Lombardi on being honored with this year's Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Both professors Mullen and Lombardi, as well as all of our faculty, recognize and nurture the gifts and talents of each and every student, ensuring our students become lifelong learners as they conduct research, complete internships, and find meaningful paths beyond Stonehill.

I recognize the challenge these 19 months have presented to you as you’ve fostered learning and cared for and advised our students during the pandemic. I am so grateful and appreciative.

I’d also like to extend a word of welcome to our new faculty and staff members who are joining the College this year. And to Dr. DeBrenna Agbényiga, our provost, who is graciously emceeing her first Stonehill Convocation. I look forward to working with all of you in the days ahead to further the College’s mission.

This past May, we gathered to celebrate the Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2021. The Commencement speaker that day was Dr. Judy Salerno, a Stonehill alum, who came out of retirement last year to care for those suffering from COVID-19 in New York City. Her Commencement address I found to be inspirational and challenging and worth reflecting on as we begin this academic year.

Dr. Salerno said:

“Now is YOUR chance to create a world with greater compassion, resilience, equity, and justice, beginning with your own community. It is your opportunity to use the gifts you have been given to make this extraordinary moment in time a sustained and resounding movement: where “-isms”- racism/sexism/nativism/ageism—to name but a few—are past history, where collective needs and personal responsibility are harmonized, and where everyone’s life has purpose and value.

This is the task that lies ahead—both individually and collectively. You will be challenged to take risks and, at times, to find ways to lift up others, even when you are discouraged.”

As we continue to struggle with the challenge of living during this time of the pandemic, let us demonstrate a spirit of selflessness, as we seek to “find ways to lift one another up.”

As we begin this academic year, let us ask Mary, Queen of the Summit, to watch over us in her love. May God bless you in your work and in your studies and may God's spirit animate all that we do here at the College.

Thanks so much and I hope you have a great start to the academic year.