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

May 31, 2010

MAY 30, 2010

      Mr. Pearn, fellow trustees, distinguished guests, parents, families, friends and, most importantly, members of the Class of 2010. I greet you at this auspicious event in the life of The University of Scranton.

      It is a rare privilege to be here today. The assembly in this arena epitomizes Scranton's pride, passion and promise. The pride especially belongs to parents and families. Your love for your daughters and sons is palpable and contagious. You are rightly exuberant in celebrating their success. How wonderfully you have raised them and nurtured them down the path that leads to this commencement. For more than 20 years, these graduates have been graced by your love.  And now look what love has accomplished. Parents and families, thank you for sharing these remarkable women and men with The University of Scranton. Members of the Class of 2010 take a moment now to acknowledge your first, best teachers, your parents and your families who have made all of this possible.  
      My friends in the Class of 2010, your education here at Scranton introduced you to high ideals and aspirations. Yours is a formation that elicits great desires, desires that direct your days and works to the glory of God and the well-being of humankind. Today your class is enhanced by the addition of five members whom we've honored with doctorates. They represent the achievement of Scranton's ideals and aspirations. Carolyn Forché, Father Charles Currie, John Dionne, Mary Beth Farrell and Robert Healey can all serve as signposts for you.  As you steer the course of your lives, let such people be an ever-fixed mark and a measure of success. I want to thank Carolyn for her most inspiring commencement address. She proves that graduation is not only a time for pageantry. It is also a time for poetry. The witness of her words and example resonates with the University's commitment to promote justice in the Jesuit tradition. Carolyn's presence today marks the culmination of a year in which we have commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and their companions and the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Thank you, Carolyn.

      Catholic education has no greater friend than Bob Healey.  Jesuit education has no better friend than Charlie Currie.  I regret that Bob cannot be with us today, and I will assure him of our prayers and our admiration for his efforts to preserve the American church's most precious patrimony, our schools.  Charlie Currie is a Jesuit's Jesuit.  He is the example of the quintessential Jesuit prayer, "Teach me to give and not to count the cost."  He has crowded his career with great accomplishments, all the while modeling the freedom and selflessness born of St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. The University of Scranton and the 27 other American Jesuit universities owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Fr. Currie.

      The University of Scranton thankfully has many friends, but none better than the two we honor today, Mary Beth Farrell and John Dionne.  On a personal note, I don't have any better friends either. Long before I had the privilege of being president here I served on the Board of Trustees with Mary Beth and John. In fact, they were the two who had the audacious idea that an English professor with limited expertise in 16th century sonnets could do this job.  I owe them for this great privilege. The University owes them for their wise counsel, their singular competence and their uncompromised love for this sacred enterprise. As a Board member, as our vice chair, and as the chair of the President's Business Council, Mary Beth Farrell has and continues to support her alma mater as has no other alumna since Scranton became coeducational in 1972. John Dionne, as a Board member and as chair of the Board, together with his wife and fellow graduate Jackie, gave us not only our beautiful campus green, they gave us years of their lives.  During those years, John was responsible for reimagining the way we operate the University and how we position ourselves along the spectrum of American higher education. It is friends like Mary Beth and John who believe in and help us realize our goal to be and to be recognized as the best master's level Jesuit university in the nation. Today we thank them for that.

      Most importantly today, we thank the graduates of the Class of 2010.  Thanks first for putting up with constant construction.  You really ought to be wearing hard hats instead of graduation caps.  But maybe all the building happening around you is an apt metaphor for what's been happening inside your hearts and minds.  Just as the campus has changed for the better, you have been changed here. Changed utterly we hope.  The assumptions you brought with you, the biases and boxes of thoughts you came with have been upended and unpacked in your years at Scranton. Our incomparable faculty and staff have ignited a unique spark in you. That spark is the magic of Scranton, isn't it?  And it is hard to explain to outsiders. Right? Or as the character Phyllis says to a new Dunder Mifflin employee on an episode of The Office. "You have a lot to learn about this town sweetie."

      What have you learned in this town?  It will likely take you a lifetime to really understand, but know this now. You have been well-loved. Loved by family who provided this for you. Loved by faculty and staff who prompted and prodded you to greatness. Loved by friends who are now yours for life. Cherish and keep them. As my college president told my class at graduation, "Don't waste love." Spend your love lavishly on the friends you have made at Scranton.  Love all that you have learned here. Love the University that is now fully yours. Come back often and catch us up on your lives. Tell the president how to run the place. Wherever life takes you, tell the people you meet about the graces given and received on this sacred ground - The University of Scranton.  "Not where you breathe, but where you love, you live."  No matter where you breathe, part of you will always love and live at The University of Scranton.

      God bless the Class of 2010. God bless Catholic and Jesuit education and God bless The University of Scranton.

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