The University of Notre Dame celebrated its 177th Launching Ceremony Sunday, May 15 at the Notre-Dame stadium. An audience of over 25,000 family members, friends, professors and graduates attended.
Salutatorian Morgan La Sala, a mechanical engineering major and member of the Naval ROTC program from Wayne, New Jersey, offered an invocation. On behalf of the graduating class, she asked for God’s direction to use “the tools Notre Dame University has given us for good, and to always keep service and faith, regardless of creed, at first.” plan of our decision-making”.
Valedictorian and Olathe, Kansas native Devin Diggs encouraged graduates to use the power of their education to stand up for what they believe in, amplify the voices of those unheard, and support each other as they pursue the passions of their hearts – actions, he noted, that do not happen quietly. Referring to the directive given to fans at Notre Dame home football games, he asked his comrades to keep “making noise”.
“It’s easy to stay silent, but I challenge you to bring attention to the issues that need to be addressed,” Diggs said. “Our Lady has given us the tools to do this – to think critically, to question, to debate, to synthesize our knowledge creatively and ethically. Build on those lessons and speak out on the issues that matter.
Diggs, a major in neuroscience and behavior and with a minor in education, schooling and society, invoked the late Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSCpresident of Notre-Dame from 1952 to 1987, as a model to follow.
“Fifty years ago Father Hesburgh spoke up and led the University to admit women into the undergraduate student body, recognizing that education is not complete unless it embraces all perspectives, regardless of race, religion, status and gender,” he said. “What seems banal to us today has only been achieved through radical moves against the status quo, the courage to make your voice heard in the face of an intimidating majority. It’s making noise – taking a stand for your beliefs to improve the world around us.
Diggs also spoke about how the Class of 2022 embodies Notre Dame’s alma mater words “strong and true” and the deep meaning those words mean to him. He concluded by reflecting on the world that graduates face today.
“We are entering an era filled with war, genocide, inequality and hunger,” he said. “Now is not the time to be silent. It is up to us to stand up for our beliefs, to raise the voices of others and to build community. Wear Our Lady on your sleeves while letting your heart fill with passion to use your gifts for others.
Introducing Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the opening speaker, Fr Jenkins said, “His life has been a witness to how freedom and human dignity can rise, by the grace of God, from the ashes of tyranny, oppression and violence. He is a worthy speaker in our difficult times.
When Bishop Gudziak received an honorary degree and during his presentation, the graduates stood up and waved Ukrainian flags in solidarity with a beleaguered nation.
Archbishop Gudziak, the highest Ukrainian Catholic prelate in the United States and organizer and president of the Ukrainian Catholic University, spoke about the complex symbolism of the heart.
“By the grace of God at the center of our being, in what is often called our heart, we have been given the capacity to love, to make ourselves vulnerable to others and to experience the mystery and the gift of relationships “, did he declare.
He added that the graduates’ best moments at the University were “heart to heart”, saying, “It’s the call of Our Lady. The human vocation and the ability to share the heart of God by loving, giving and suffering with and for others – this is what Notre Dame University has offered to you, and now through you offers to the world.
Archbishop Gudziak then turned his attention to another place representing Mary – Mariupol, or “the city of Mary”. He noted that many of the residents fighting to protect him are the same age as the graduates he spoke to, with similar hopes and dreams.
He also explained why the world has been mesmerized by the courage, perseverance and deep love of the Ukrainian people as they are besieged by the Russian invaders.
“Why? Because you and I see the heart of a people and a country, the humanity and strength of its leaders who reflect the posture and character of the whole nation,” he said. “A nation of down-to-earth heroes, brave patriots, unconditional lovers. Those who look towards eternity by overcoming their fears. Countless Ukrainians show the greatest love, because “no one has more love than this, laying down your life for your friends.”
Bishop Gudziak also expressed his gratitude for the expanded partnership between Notre Dame University and the Ukrainian Catholic University.
“Our Lady offered a singular response to the Russian invasion and the devastation of Ukraine,” he said. “My presence reflects your sincere solidarity. It is a sign of your ability to love generously, to embrace, serve and save suffering, to bless the accursed and to uplift the downtrodden and downtrodden.
Our Lady presented Archbishop Gudziak with an honorary Doctorate of Laws. Two other honorary degrees were also awarded at the ceremony: an honorary doctorate of science to Ernest J. Moniz and an honorary doctorate of laws to Kathleen McChesney, which were originally to be recognized at the 2020 ceremony.
John W. Jordan II, a University of Notre Dame alumnus and longtime administrator, became the second recipient of the Hesburgh-Stephan Medal, awarded to an administrator for unusual and exemplary contributions to governance and governance. mission of Notre-Dame during his tenure on the Board of Directors.
The University also presented the 2022 Laetare Prize — America’s most prestigious Catholic award and Notre Dame’s highest honor — to environmental activist Sharon Lavigne.
Lavigne, founder and director of Rise St. James, a faith-based nonprofit fighting for environmental justice in St. James, Louisiana, said she was “beyond humility and honor to receive the award.
Lavigne said faith has always been a big part of her life and that her father, Milton Cayette Sr., taught her early on that “prayer changes things.”
“As an Ambassador of Change, I feel called to honor my father and represent our Heavenly Father in an earthly realm. And that’s what motivated me to found Rise St. James, a non-profit, faith-based organization that fights for clean air and water and stops the expansion of petrochemical industries in St. James Parish.
Just as Lavigne felt called to advocate for low-income communities and communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by industrial pollution, she challenged graduates to seek out and achieve their own goals.
“To you, the students, the next generation, I hope you will never doubt that you are also called – called to demonstrate His greatness through your lifestyle, to influence the world around you,” he said. she stated. “As you celebrate today and move forward on your paths, remember that you are called to be a world-class leader in your sphere of influence.”
In a surprise appearance, Hall of Fame football player Jerome Bettis, who returned to complete his studies this year, also spoke to the graduates about their legacy.
“Please understand that it won’t be how much money you made, but the difference you made in someone’s life,” he said. “Not the political policies that I am sure you will undoubtedly change, but the number of lives that you will change in one way or another. Not the assets that you will acquire during your life, but your ability to be an asset to someone else. And not your ability to raise capital, but your ability to raise your children with humility, empathy, and love. That’s how your legacy will be written.”
The ceremony ended with a blessing from Archbishop Gudziak and a charge to the graduating class from Father Jenkins.
“Always be as generous as possible with your time, talent and treasure,” Fr. Jenkins said. “In your family life, your professional life, and your spiritual life, every day of your life, never forget that your charge as graduates of Notre Dame is to be a force for good.”