Monday, May 14, 2012


This past Saturday, Saint Joseph's University held its annual commencement exercises, the 161st in the University's history and the last that I will attend as a Jesuit regent. Commencement is one of the very few events in the year that offer me the opportunity to wear the academic robes that I received when I was awarded the degree of Juris Doctor at the University of Notre Dame. Here I am modeling said robes in my office, just before reporting for the start of the day's ceremonies.

Having formed the two lines of the academic procession, SJU faculty wait to begin the march to the graduation tent. From left to right in the center of this photo, one can see longtime Professor of English Father Joseph Feeney, S.J. and my Philosophy Department colleagues Sister Elizabeth Linehan, R.S.M. and Father Joseph Godfrey, S.J.

Before entering the tent, the two lines of faculty pause to allow the graduates to process in first, thereby gaining the opportunity to greet and congratulate former students as thy pass by. Here, the faculty wait as the AFROTC Color Guard approaches bearing the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Here are four of my former students, all looking very happy to graduate and become Saint Joseph's University alumni.

Members of the Class of 2012 process by, mortarboard tassels still set to the right and academic hoods yet to be donned.

The "Golden Hawks," members of the Class of 1962 who are being honored on the fiftieth anniversary of their graduation from what was then still known as Saint Joseph's College.

Our featured commencement speaker, Father James Martin, S.J., author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and numerous other books, chaplain to The Colbert Report, and now an honorary alumnus of Saint Joseph's University.

Graduates of the Haub School of Business process to the dais.

Graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences process across the dais, shaking hands with the President and the Dean as their names are read and then receiving rolled-up scrolls bearing an English translation of the Latin text printed on their diplomas. (Graduates receive their actual diplomas with absolutely no pomp or ceremony, picking them up after Commencement at the Student Service Center on campus.)

Finally, here is a note left on the Jesuit community bulletin board by our most recent honorary degree recipient, who hopefully doesn't mind my posting of it on this blog.

For me, Commencement Day is always bittersweet. The joy of celebrating the graduates' achievements is always mixed with the sad recognition that this particular community - the unique group of students and teachers and others present on a university campus at a given point of time - is being scattered, never to be united in exactly the same way again. As I noted here recently, universities are necessarily transient communities; there is nothing that can or should be done about this - that's just the way life goes.

My prayers and good wishes are with all who are completing university degrees this month, especially here on Hawk Hill. Congratulations, graduates! AMDG.


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