Franciscan University of Steubenville graduated its second-largest graduating class on Saturday, May 11. The University graduated 708 graduates from 40 undergraduate and 7 master's programs.
At the May 10 Baccalaureate Mass, the Most Reverend José H. Gomez, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, noted that today’s society believes “there is no God or his existence doesn’t make any difference. Worshiping God, living our faith, is more and more contrary to the law.” This presents a challenge for the Church, he said, because “we have to find new ways to proclaim Christ and to live as Christians in this culture. This is what the new evangelization is all about, and that’s what we expect from each one of you.”
Archbishop Gomez encouraged the graduates to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to change the world. “Our mission is to continue his mission: To redeem that little part of the world that we live in—our homes, the places where we work, our neighborhoods, to sanctify reality, to help our loved ones and the people we meet every day to find God,” he said. “And we go with Jesus, we go with God. He gives us the promise that he made to his first apostles, the promise that he would be with us, no matter what, until the end of the age.”
The undergraduate commencement address was delivered by the honorable R. James Nicholson, former chair of the Republican National Committee, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and secretary for Veterans Affairs. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of public administration for his enduring concern for God’s poor and his passionate commitment to furthering the spread of human freedom.
In his address, Nicholson urged graduates to be prayerful and persistent. “When the going gets tough, and it will on occasion, resort to prayer. God doesn’t want you to fail,” he said, also reminding them of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew, that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
The power of prayer has been evident in his life, Nicholson said. Through prayer, he both survived Vietnam and found a wife, to whom he has been married for nearly 46 years. His prayers to St. Anthony, he said, resulted in the location of a wallet-sized hard drive, stolen from the home of a government official, that contained crucial information about the nation’s veterans. Remarkably, the hard drive was determined not to have been compromised.
Nicholson noted that the graduates are entering the next phase of their lives at “such a propitious time,” when the freedoms of religion and conscience and the sanctity of marriage are threatened.
“There’s a palpable downward drift in the traditional values of our society. Pope Benedict XVI aptly described this as the tyranny of secularism. But therein lies your mandate and your opportunity,” he said, urging Franciscan’s graduates to “push back” and use their education, leadership skills, and motivation “in first stemming and then reversing this downward cultural drift.”
At the end of the undergraduate commencement, Father Terence Henry, TOR, was honored for his 13-year tenure as Franciscan University’s fifth president.
Franciscan’s 2013 graduating class included students from 46 states. The top five states represented by graduates were, in order, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Virginia. Members of Franciscan’s Class of 2013 hailed from Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nigeria as well.
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