I am pleased and proud to offer my very warmest welcome to the families and guests who join us today and my heartfelt congratulations to our graduates on this auspicious occasion. Today marks Saint Anselm College’s 122nd Commencement Exercises. This year’s ceremony is very special, as we also mark the 125th anniversary of the college. Since our founding in 1889, generations of Anselmians have graduated from the Hilltop. In their memory, and in the spirit of our founding fathers, you join their ranks as the proud recipient of a Saint Anselm College degree.
Today represents a collective triumph, not just of the Class of 2015, but of your professors, administrators, staff and monks of Saint Anselm Abbey who have guided and supported you on this journey. From the admission officer who first inspired a young person’s interest in Saint Anselm and the dining hall employee who served up encouraging words as well as meals along the way, to the teacher who graded the last exam and will serve as a mentor for decades to come, today is a shared celebration. Sharing in this gratitude as well are your parents and families, whose caring presence has sustained you over the past four years in ways large and small, and who now proudly watch as you prepare to take your next steps forward, strengthened by that foundational love and support.
In mentioning all those who contributed to your success, I cannot fail to mention one whose dedication to you and to the college has been second to none. Today, I am privileged to confer upon Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., an honorary degree, in recognition of his 24 years of service as President of the college. As you take your leave from this magnificent hilltop campus that was founded and is loving sustained by the confreres of Father Jonathan, may your shared alma mater and Anselmian identity inspire and guide you in the years ahead.
Commencement represents hundreds of individual journeys of personal and academic growth, of goals set and achieved, majors selected and abandoned, discoveries made, relationships formed and horizons opened. Each graduate who ascends the stage today brings a personal story of joy, heartache and perseverance, often against the most difficult of obstacles. With them, we remember in prayer today the parents, grandparents and other family members lost who cannot be here to celebrate with us today. We also remember the tragic loss of Kayla Bertolami, your classmate, whose parents will receive her diploma in her memory today.
Members of the Class of 2015: I have the honor of handing you a Saint Anselm diploma, after which you will go forth into the world. On behalf of your professors, I wish you the greatest success and happiness at Tufts Dental School and the University of New Hampshire School of Law; in California, England and South Korea; in hospitals, banks, schools, defense contractors and software companies; in the heady corridors of political power and the heartbreaking streets and villages of the most vulnerable.
We send you with God’s blessings upon you and your families and upon the remarkable life of creative and generous service that lies before you. For you have learned in your four years what generations before you have also come to know: Anselmian today. Anselmian tomorrow. Anselmian always.