Good morning, graduates. Today, among family, friends, faculty and staff, we gather to celebrate and honor all that you have accomplished during your time here at Stonehill. 

Student speaker Liz Jalette described, each chapter of your Stonehill experience has had quite a few plot twists, including a global pandemic disrupting life and learning, navigating online classes, and adjusting to masking on campus. There have been triumphs and tribulations, but your story of Stonehill is one of perseverance, resilience, and fortitude.

As Amanda Perra reflected, life can present real, difficult obstacles that we must find ways to overcome. Often times, it is a teacher or mentor who helps guide us during times of challenge, encouraging us to find our own inner strength. I am confident that the knowledge, skills, and tools you have acquired here will serve you well when you must face your fears. 

John Della Volpe spoke of embracing the power of listening and understanding and how they unlock the potential for progress in our lives and meaningful transformation to shape our world for the better. Janet Wu in her work as a journalist dedicated her life to the pursuit of free inquiry and truth and is a person who embodies the value of active listening. 

The world needs people who listen. And the world needs you. Needs your leadership. Needs your compassion. Needs your courage. But most of all, it needs you to replenish your reservoir of hope so you can persevere and flourish. This will allow you to pause and listen deeply to others and the beauty of the world that surrounds us.

Poet and naturalist Mary Oliver knew the power of pause and deep listening in a world that demands our constant care and attention. She wrote:

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

As you write the next chapter of your life story, may your light shine bright in the world always. May you become a beacon of hope for others. Please know that the Stonehill campus and community are here for you always. You have a home on the hill to reignite your light and restore your hope whenever you need it most. 

My prayer is that Mary, Queen of the Summit, guides you and keeps you safe. Congratulations and God Bless You, Class of 2023.