Franciscan Way Magazine

"If I Were Commencement Speaker"

Extras from the Summer 2013 issue of Franciscan Way Magazine

Of all the words a college graduate hears, the least memorable are those of the commencement address. So it doesn’t matter what I say. But I will follow tradition and talk about your future.

In the world into which you are graduating, only one person truly understands the future. That person, of course, is the data miner. The data miner knows that consumer behavior x is a reliable predictor of outcome y. At most colleges, today’s graduate learns that data mining is something new. But the graduate of a liberal arts college knows that’s false: The data miner’s activity goes back to the beginnings of actuarial science in the 17th century. And the Franciscan University graduate knows that the actuary’s actual activity goes back even further than that. Actuaries known as “prophets” knew that consumer behavior x is a reliable predictor of eternal life.

Behavior y? Damnation.

— Dr. John Holmes, English Professor

You will find that living your faith away from Franciscan is hard. Most likely, you will not have a community as supportive as when you were at Franciscan. You will most likely not be living in a building with the Blessed Sacrament. You will not have “peer pressure” to go to Mass. .

The beautiful thing you have is an opportunity to grow in your faith during these difficulties. The effort that it takes to live your Faith in a world that does not respect it will provide your chance to become a saint. .

Don’t let that opportunity pass you by; don’t be passive in your faith. Strive for holiness in all things and at all times..

— Kyle Murphy, Residence Director, Assisi Heights

Learn what it means to truly play! Our media-saturated world is full of playthings: gadgets, movies, video games, even our online social interactions involve an element of play and recreation. But what is the Catholic worldview of play, of rest and recreation? St. Thomas Aquinas proposes that there is virtue in play, and that play is necessary and important rest not just for the body or mind, but for the soul. True play engenders creativity, promotes harmony, supports relationships, nourishes us, recreates us, and draws us closer to Our Heavenly Father. In other words, a life of work and authentic play forms the basis of a life that is whole and holy.

Is this the kind of play that we practice daily? How can we practice true play in our lives amidst our media saturated culture?

— Dr. Eugene Gan, Communication Arts Professor

One of my favorite sayings growing up was “labels belong on jars not people!” It wasn’t until I came here to Steubenville that I first heard about Generation Y and all their unique attributes that set them apart from those that came before them.

It was St. Josemaria Escriva who said, “It’s true, financially you are a zero, in social standing another zero, and another in virtues and another in talent. But to the left of those zeros, stands Christ” (Way, No. 473). And with Christ all things are possible!

I don’t know too much about generation Y, but I do know the members of the Class of 2013 are all God’s sons and daughters, and I expect great things to come of you.

— Robert A. Palladino, Director of Chapel Ministries, Christ the King Chapel

To the Nursing Class of 2013: You are about to enter the world of health care, a delivery system that has made life more complex and has provoked dilemmas never before faced by health-care workers and health-care consumers alike. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for us as health-care providers to discern what should or should not be done morally, in a given situation. The ability to preserve lives that once could not be saved, advances in technology, an increasingly pluralistic society, and government cut-backs in health-care spending have made it more and more difficult for nurses to make decisions that impact the rights of individuals, families, and communities—and it is expected that such issues will only intensify in the future.

Preparing you with the knowledge to manage these challenges has been a formidable task. We have attempted to teach you a way to balance clients’ rights, ethical theories, professional responsibility, societal forces, and occupational pressures in order to make decisions about moral and ethical decisions you will face.

Perhaps it all boils down to the simple phrase: “know thyself.” This has always been good advice, and maybe the following will help:

Know your own values.

Do not allow your values to be compromised.

Know professional nursing ethics.

Do not allow your nursing ethics to be compromised.

Do not be disappointed that not everyone meets you standards.

Do not force your personal values on others.

— Carolyn Miller, Chair, Nursing Department

Sit back, take a deep breath, feel great about this day, acknowledge thanks and gratefulness to those who helped you achieve what this day means to you. Thank God that He brought you here, but know well that you’re not done yet. In fact, you will never be done. You stand on a stairway to heaven; yet you stand also on the stairway of life itself. Yesterday, you graduated from high school; today you have earned your Bachelor’s degree. What about tomorrow? Have you finished your education? Not hardly.

Your Bachelor’s degree will bring its rewards, to be sure, but for many of you, it is the key that opens the next door or set of doors. Your future is now in your hands. The decisions you make now will shape your life in terms of both the short range and long range goals you choose. And keep in mind that we do not live in personal vacuums; our decisions in life not only affect ourselves but also everyone around us. If we think of a future, a good one, we will be rewarded handsomely when we think of service to others. In other words, I charge you to find out what you can do to serve the greatest good to the greatest number of people possible within your level of education. Serving others is Godliness. By serving others, you serve God too.

Some of you will be able to get your dream jobs right away, most not. But no profession that I know of is satisfied with just the Bachelor’s degree. Most will ask you to pursue advanced degrees and/or certifications in your field. You owe that pursuit to God, yourself, your patients, students, colleagues, and family. As Mother Ermina said to me, “Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better is your best. ¡Vaya con Dios!

— Dr. Robert Doyle, History Professor

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