The spirit of St. Francis filled the air at the recent graduations of the Upstate New York colleges sponsored by Holy Name Province.
Student speakers at both St. Bonaventure University in Allegany and Siena College in Loudonville, along with friars, speakers, presidents, and honorees endearingly mentioned the saint who helps guide the schools’ missions.
Coincidentally it was on a pilgrimage to Assisi, birthplace of the founder of the Franciscan Order, and Lourdes 15 years ago that SBU president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, met keynote speaker, writer Patricia Hampl.
Siena president Kevin Mullen, OFM, shown in photo, encouraged the graduates to read the prayers of St. Francis and approach life as he would. “Go forth with an attitude of gratitude. We live in relationship to one another, to our work, and to our God, and that relationship reaches out in love … to care for the earth and one another.” He added, “Be mindful that you can help someone else achieve.”
Using Web and Social Media
SBU conferred 660 degrees on May 12 at its 153rd commencement in the Reilly Center. Siena presented 857 on May 19 at its 75th graduation ceremonies at the Times Union Center in Albany. Both St. Bonaventure and Siena posted video of the ceremonies on their websites, Facebook and other photo-sharing sites.
The speakers, including four who received honorary degrees at SBU and three at Siena, offered to the graduates both inspiration for daily living and career advice.
“Your first post-graduation job is to make sure you have a dream,” keynoter Hampl, an acclaimed author and English professor at the University of Minnesota, told SBU graduates.
“Maybe no one can expect to find the meaning of life, but a meaning for your life that’s worth looking for — and waiting for,” she said. “Waiting for your future to present itself even as you may be in hand-wringing uncertainty after these four scripted years. Waiting is a big part of the future.”
Hampl stressed to graduates the importance of looking at their lives as an ever-evolving story that will take a lifetime to tell.
Also honored were Eugene McQuade, chief executive officer of Citibank and a 1971 SBU graduate; Daria Foster, managing partner of the investment management firm Lord Abbett & Co.; and Cynthia Ann Zane, president of Hilbert College in Hamburg, N.Y.
The student speaker was Christel Mendez from the Bronx, N.Y. The management major came to SBU four years ago after pushing herself to overcome shyness and force herself to use English instead of her native Spanish.
Five university faculty members were recognized for professional excellence: Dr. Carl Case, professor of management; Dr. Christopher Mackowski, associate professor of journalism and mass communication; Dr. Phillip G. Payne, professor of history; Dr. Gregory J. Privitera, assistant professor of psychology; and Dr. Megan Walsh, assistant professor of English.
The day before commencement, Peter Schneible, OFM, biology professor, celebrated the baccalaureate Mass, assisted by graduating students and St. Bonaventure’s friar community.
Offering Degrees and Inspirational Words
Siena’s graduates, along with faculty and administrators were escorted in by a bagpipe band followed by friars processing in their habits.
The graduates included a set of triplets. Laura, Kelli and Neil Frei, who were called to the stage and recognized together. The college also presented certificates of completion to four students with disabilities who have finished the Siena College Transition Program with the North Colonie Central School District for students with special needs.
Siena College gave honorary degrees to a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of New York, the Honorable Mae D’Agostino, ’77; business and civic leader Walter Kicinski ’62, and the president of Nigro Companies, John Nigro.
The bishop of Albany, the Very Rev. Fr. Howard Hubbard, gave the benediction, encouraging students about how a meaningful relationship with God and simplicity of lifestyle will provide all that they need.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.