More Than 1400 Students Graduate from St. Bonaventure, Siena

Maria Hayes Around the Province

The Province’s sponsored schools welcomed more than 1,400 students into their alumni families this month.

St. Bonaventure University conferred degrees on more than 600 graduates during the university’s 154th commencement ceremony on May 11. Keynote speaker Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, director of the department of religion at the Chautauqua Institution, framed her address around the story of a 9/11 survivor, who ignored the call to remain in his office at the World Trade Center and raced down 47 flights of stairs to safety.

“He was unable to get out of his mind the scene that he left behind, people of all ages, races, gender, and nationalities were praying, in languages he could not understand, in postures of prayer with which he was unfamiliar,” she said. “But they were all praying to one God.

“Perhaps it is this vision that should be the passion of our hearts,” she continued, “A vision, a commitment that binds us together in pursuit of a better world. The world we live in and the world of our children and grandchildren will be an increasingly interfaith world. It will ask the very best from the religious faith that is in us… and from our religious variety, the faith we live by inside will touch our common life for the good of all.”

Rev. Campbell’s full speech can be found on the university’s website.

Along with Rev. Campbell, honorary degrees were given to Ann Swan, a longtime SBU benefactor and staunch supporter of Catholic higher education, and Neal Johnson, ‘73, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York.

University president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, addressed students with a poem written by Mary Oliver.

“To live in this world,” she recited, “you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones, knowing life depends on it; and, when the time comes, to let it go, to let it go.

“Go with our love, return often, remember always,” she concluded.

At Siena College, president Kevin Mullen, OFM, ’75, helped bestow more than 800 degrees on students during the school’s 74th commencement ceremony on May 18. Instead of having a keynote speaker, a video presentation featuring the graduating class’s reflections was shown. The video, as well as other highlights from the commencement ceremony, are available online.

During the ceremony, Dennis Tamburello, OFM, ‘75, professor of religious studies, was honored with the Matthew T. Conlin, OFM, Distinguished Service Award. This honor is given annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in service beyond what is normally expected of faculty. He was also presented with the Raymond C. Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award, which recognizes individuals known for not only their service to non-profit organizations, but also their deep intellectual curiosity in a wide variety of disciplines.

Dennis has worked for more than 30 years at Siena. He has twice served as chair of the religious studies department and fulfilled assignments as core coordinator, vice chair of the human rights committee and director of academic advising. He has also been a member of several college committees and is currently the college’s representative on the executive board of the Capital Region Theological Center.

He holds a master’s in theology from the Washington Theological Union and a doctorate from the University of Chicago, where he was trained as a historical theologian. Dennis has authored three books, as well as dozens of articles, critiques and reviews. He has presented at conferences drawing scholars from around the world. The focus of his recent scholarship has been ecumenical and interfaith dialogue: in particular, the theology of the Reformed theologian John Calvin, and how his thought on spirituality and the sacraments contains significant parallels to Roman Catholic theology. His focus has expanded to participation in Jewish-Christian dialogue, with emphasis on Jewish and Christian hermeneutics and Holocaust studies.

Since 1979, he has ministered to Siena students as a friar-in-residence. He has also chaperoned and led service immersion trips and study tour courses. As a volunteer, he taught at the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, N.Y. Appointed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he has served as a Catholic delegate on the national Reformed-Roman Catholic Dialogue team since 2003. His complete list of accomplishments is available online.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.