Santorum Tells Grads to Rebel Against Culture

May 19, 2003

Senator Santorum Tells Grads to Rebel Against Popular Culture

"We need to summon the moral strength to create a civilization of peace, and justice, and of course, of love," said United States Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to Christendom College's graduating class of 2003. "This is where you come in. I believe of all the great gifts God has given to the young, the greatest of these are energy, idealism, and rebelliousness. I want to challenge each and every one of you to be a radical, to be a rebel, to rebel against the popular culture. Your task will not be an easy one. You must overcome the temptation of silence."

On May 17, during the Graduation ceremony held in Crusader Gymnasium, Christendom College President Dr. Timothy O'Donnell bestowed awarded Senator Santorum Christendom College's Pro Deo et Patria Medal for Distinguished Service to God and Country, after which he delivered the Commencement Address (click Here for the complete text of his speech).

Dr. O'Donnell's introduction of Senator Santorum was interrupted on three different occasions by animated clapping and standing ovations by the enthusiastic audience.

Senator Rick Santorum has indeed overcome the temptation of silence in recent weeks. At the beginning of May, Santorum was accused of hate speech and bigotry for his comments he made to a reporter on the Texas law banning sodomy.

"Virtue" is "a word fraught with controversy today," he said, referring to his interview which was distorted by activists both within and outside the press. "I tried to articulate the nature of marriage, the good of marriage," he said, "Yet now, the very act of referring to this tradition, of upholding it, or dare say, making any defense of the moral consensus of every civilization in human history, is often characterized as hate speech."

Santorum told the graduates that when they are rebelling against modern culture, they are not called by God to be necessarily successful, but rather to be faithful. He explained his point by telling a story about how, back in 1998, when former President Bill Clinton had vetoed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, the Senate voted to overturn Clinton's veto. He explained that it was not overturned by a margin of two votes. Santorum, though, had spent much of the night before trying to convince his fellow senators, but only to realize that he could not change even one vote.

However, a week later, Santorum received an e-mail from a man who said he and his girlfriend had heard one of Santorum's speeches against partial-birth abortion on television. The girlfriend started crying and said she had scheduled an abortion for the following day. "She did not have the abortion the next day. There is now a little girl who's 4 years old, who was adopted by two loving parents," he said. "To this world, I failed. But God was faithful."

Prior to the Commencement Ceremonies, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., offered the Baccalaureate Mass in the Chapel of Christ the King and delivered the homily (click Here for the complete text of his homily). Cardinal Dulles chose to speak on a special theme of Christ's which is very near and dear to Christendom College: The Way, the Truth, and the Life. In fact, these words appear in the College's logo.

"Treasure the fact that you have been given a Catholic education in which the truth of revelation was not severed from the truth of the human sciences," exhorted Cardinal Dulles. "There are many rivers of truth, but in the end they merge into one undivided stream. When the perennial questions are seriously asked, Christ can be recognized as the encompassing truth. Truth in the end turns out to be a Person, a person whom we encounter both in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the ministry of the sacraments."

He concluded by saying that "at Christendom College you have...learned to love the Eucharist. Take that love with you wherever you go. The more your life is centered on this sacrament of sacraments, the more energized will it be in all its dimensions. Neither death nor life nor anything under heaven will be able to separate you from Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Cardinal Dulles was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters during Commencement Exercises (Click Here to read his remarks). Christendom College conferred 73 Bachelor of Arts and three Associate of Arts degrees on its graduating class, making the Class of 2003 the largest in the College's 25-year history.

The 73 undergraduates who received B.A. degrees are: Matthew Akers, Stephen Akhurst, Danielle Anderson, Megan Anderson, Fadi Auro, Michael Baron, Molly Becker, Jaime Berger, Michael Blum, Dominic Bodoh, Mary Boever, Gregory Burns, Elizabeth Butina, Elena Cardenas, Matthew Coffey, Sr. Maria Corona, PCI, Amy Donahue, Kelly Drew, Susan Erwin, Theresa Fer, Daniel Fier, Theresa Ford, Fred Fraser, Meghan Gallante, Catherine Garrett, Donald Goodman, Anna Hatke, Laura Henderson, Clinton Hepler, Paul Jalsevac, Joelle Jansen, Claire Jensen, Elizabeth Kish, Ann Kugel, Jan Kuznia, Christopher Lane (read his Salutatory Address), Lucia Leggio, Sr. Maria Licea, PCI, Alyssa Lombardi, James Maldonado Berry, Anne Martin, Kathleen McGlynn, Brendan McGuire (read his Valedictory Address), Daniel McGuire, Michael McGuirk, Colleen McMahon, Amber Meza, Candice Meza, Anne Monette, Sean Murphy, Andrea Nolan, Niall O'Donnell, Kerri Polce, Caroline Pollock, Rebecca Price, Suzanne Quinson, Bethany Sargis, Patrick Scanlon, John Paul Schafer, Michael Schmitt, Gregory Settducati, Justin Smith, Melanie Smith, Leah Stephens, Mary Storck, Emily Syski, Heather Tansey, Alexandria Thornbrugh, Christianne Van Sant, Katherine Wathen, Dane Weber, Sarah Webster, and Nicholas Wingate.

Three Associate of Arts degrees were conferred on Sarah Antonio, Megan McNeely, and Lori Omann.

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