Cardinal Trujillo Presides Over Commencement Weekend 2002
May 21, 2002
On May 18, 2002, Christendom College conferred 53 Bachelor of Arts degrees on its graduating class of 2002. Commencement weekend at Christendom College began with a Baccalaureate Mass, celebrated by His Eminence Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome, on Friday, May 17.
Cardinal Trujillo is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Born in Villahermosa, Colombia, in 1935, he was ordained a priest in 1960, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bogota in 1972, appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Medellin from 1979 to 1991, and finally, His Eminence was elected Cardinal in the Consistory in February of 1983.
During his homily, His Eminence told the graduates to not be afraid to speak to today's world about the Risen Christ. We have to profess him with joy that is ever new, with pride and decisiveness, like the Apostles, and like the martyrs, he said.
"Ideologies pass, cultures pass, but Jesus lives for ever. The Risen Christ is the center and foundation of everything, the one Lord. Dear students, in this prestigious college you acquire knowledge about the different sciences. And you, distinguished professors, you strive with enthusiasm to transmit the increasingly sophisticated knowledge about the world to your students. But never forget that at the center of all human life there is always the living Jesus. Without Him, the meaning of human existence cannot be understood," he concluded.
Later that evening, during the Senior Dinner held in the St. Lawrence Commons, Dr. Warren H. Carroll, Founding and First President of Christendom College, stood up before the faculty, and the graduates and their families, and told them that after twenty-five years of teaching history at Christendom, he has officially retired.
On Saturday afternoon during the Graduation ceremony held in Crusader Gymnasium, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, Christendom President, bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on His Eminence, after which, Cardinal Trujillo presented the Commencement Address.
"Ever since its establishment in 1977, Christendom College has sought to form its students by using a challenging curriculum centered on faith and the truths of Divine Revelation as taught by the Roman Catholic Church and by natural reason as derived from natural law and human experience in fidelity to the Magisterium. The objective of your College, instaurare omnia in Christo, to restore all things in Christ, is laudable," began Trujillo.
"My dear young people of the class of 2002: the great risk for humanity today is to lose its human identity, its human heart," continued Trujillo. "Christendom College has offered you a great treasure, a truth about man, values to which you will bear witness in the world. And so give witness, with courage and pride, to the reason for your hope."
He spoke of some of the problems found in society today and affirmed that at the heart of the confusion lies the failure to recognize the truth. The truth about God is the source of the truth about man. According to Cardinal Trujillo, the major problem is a "genuine anthropology: Is the human creature created as an image of God from the very beginning, from the moment of conception, or is he just a thing?"
He continued by explaining that many today do not accept the fact that a human being is a gift from God. He said that many different governments are trying to impose a political truth that is far from reality and far from the good of the human person and society. This crisis is also leading to a new conception of the family and human life which closes the future for the human family and can turn into suicide. Furthermore, this new ideological vision, which is also a fruit of technical progress, presumes to justify the separation between family and life, between sexuality and procreation.
"In a word, the heart of humanity, its test and general direction is reflected in the family. Its identity and dignity converge in its attitudes regarding life and, in particular, life which begins at conception. The most terrible kind of poverty for children is to not have a good family and real love. The Church is deeply engaged in the battle for human dignity and real freedom, a freedom linked to the truth," he concluded.
Raymond Hain, from Delaware, in his Salutatory Address spoke of his gratitude for Christendom College and what he learned over the past four years.
"Of all my thoughts and feelings today, gratitude is foremost: gratitude for our Church's profound treasury of culture, liturgy, and sacred music that is fostered here; gratitude for you, our professors, who pour out so much of your lives for us students; and most of all, gratitude for you, our parents, to whom we owe everything and without whom we would be nothing. Thank you, all of you," he said.
He said that he has come to the realization that what motivates Christendom professors, parents, and priests is love; the love of truth and goodness.
"By God's mercy, in Heaven we will fully realize how completely our gratitude must extend, especially towards all of you here today who have given us so much," he concluded.
Class Valedictorian Jennie Kacsir from California addressed the audience by reflecting on Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, in which the Holy Father, in the words of Christ to St. Peter, exhorts all the faithful to Duc in altum (Put out into the deep)!
She told her peers that as they prepare to "put out into the deep" in a new way, they must not forget the further injunction of Our Lord- "lower your nets for the catch" and impart to others the fruit of their labor. "We are being sent out of the heart of Christendom to bring the reign of Christ to the world, to bring to others the fruits of our academic, social, and spiritual life in whatever sphere God calls us," she said.
According to Kacsir, the graduating class of 2002 can fulfill the purpose of their education only through surrendering their intellects and wills in love to Wisdom Incarnate, "for how can we bring the light of truth to the world and work to transform our secular culture into a new Christendom unless our hearts first of all are under the reign of Christ our King," she asked.
"Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Divine Wisdom, may we graduates of 2002 continue the work we have begun at Christendom. As we set out to begin this new stage of our lives, let us renew our surrender to the Heart of Jesus, that, impelled by His charity, we may allow the word of Christ in all its fullness to pass through us to those we are called to save; to do our part, however small, to restore all things in Christ, the King of all hearts," concluded Kacsir.
Gregory Polley, President of the Christendom College Alumni Association, awarded Therese Peters of California with the Student Achievement Award in recognition of her extraordinary enthusiasm and participation in College events throughout her four years at Christendom.
The 53 undergraduates who received B.A. degrees were: Helen Alexander, Catherine Almeter, Elizabeth Almeter, Guy Amisano, Gerard Anthony, Sarah Aronhime, Jesse Batha, Maria Bissex, Vivian Bradshaw, Robert Brown, Kathleen Byrne, Laura Byrne, Ryan Callaghan, Jeffrey Carr, Timothy Coffey, Matthew Cronkhite, Matthew Dittert, Meghan Bratt Doran, Alicia Joy Dugas, Dominique Flippen, Maria Gaetano, Alyssa Gray, Raymond Hain, Joseph Hans, Kristina Hayles, Donald Higby, Mary Elizabeth Hundt, Marc-Pierre Jansen, Jennie Kacsir, Kathleen Kosten, Kathryn Krieger, Robyn Lee, Pearse Marschner, Katherine McMahon, Katherine Mirus, Joseph Mitchell, Therese Peters, Michael Reese, Katherine Runge, Mark Schwerdt, Sherry Spring, Kristin Starcher, Patrick Storey, Mark Streiff, Catherine Sullivan, Maryann Sullivan, Natalie Johnson Tillotson, Paul Tillotson, Anne Turner, Christopher Vander Woude, Harold Welch, Peter Whelan, and Christine Wright.
Following Commencement, the graduates, their families, and guests were treated to a beautiful reception in St. Lawrence Commons, catered by College Chef Ron Steckman and his kitchen staff.
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