Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. Remarks from Graduate School Commencement 2010

May 29, 2010

MAY 29, 2010

      Distinguished guests, families and friends, members of the faculty and staff and, in particular, the Class of 2010 graduates of the College of Graduate and Continuing Education, welcome to this auspicious moment in the life of the University and in your lives. Today we celebrate the culmination of years of work and sacrifice: work on the part of our graduates - the rigorous effort required by post- baccalaureate education - and sacrifice on the part of spouses, children, family and friends. In many cases, it takes a village to earn a graduate degree. Your life circumstances are often complicated by a range of responsibilities beyond the classroom, computer, library and laboratory. So graduates, please join me in saluting those who supported you all along the way to today (applause). 

      I want to reflect for a few minutes with our graduates on how I hope a graduate degree from The University of Scranton will set you apart. You chose to pursue your degree at a very particular kind of institution: a Catholic and Jesuit institution. You studied at a place where we understand learning in a context larger than the acquisition of information and skills.  Thanks to our faculty, you are extremely well-prepared for what lies ahead for you professionally. In addition, I hope that the ethos of this University and the sacred work entrusted to it, has and will form you as agents of change in a world that needs more than information and skills. Increasingly, ours is a world in need of wise heads and willing hearts. You have undoubtedly heard the adage that "an expert is one who knows more and more about less and less." You have gained expertise here, but expertise conceived not as an end in itself. The expertise you have acquired at Scranton has, I hope, inspired you to labor along with the world's creator to heal, to teach, to conduct your business and your lives not only with competence but with compassion, especially for those who are most vulnerable among us.

      When St. Ignatius and his Jesuit brothers opened their first schools of the pursuit of abstract of specific truths. The primary point for them was character formation. As they explained in a letter to the king of Spain, "the proper education of people will mean improvement for the whole world." Today, you become an extension of that centuries-old educational tradition, sent forth from here to "go and set the world on fire."

      Let me, as a Jesuit priest who also professes English literature, leave you with the words of the poet Mary Oliver, who recasts Ignatius charge in a 21st century idiom:

      "Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don't think so.

      All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of - indolence, or action.

      "Be ignited or be gone."

      Your going forth from the University today is a summation of sorts, a beginning. The effect lies ahead, budding toward radiance. The gospel of light is handed on to you. You're being ignited for the world's well-being and the greater glory of God is Scranton's highest hope. God bless you all your days as you realize that hope, and God bless The University of Scranton. God is Scranton's highest hope. God bless you all your days as you realize that hope, and God bless The University of Scranton.

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