MERRIMACK - It may have been one of the state's smallest graduating classes on Saturday, but for the 16 seniors at Thomas More College, it was still an enormously meaningful day.
For the past four years, students of the Class of 2013 at Merrimack's quaint Catholic college have been preparing for the day they receive their diplomas and enter the real world, according to William Fahey, president of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.
He reassured the graduates that although they may feel anxious or weak, they are ready to be courageous adults.
"My simple hope is that my words do not ring hollow," he told the classmates, encouraging them to exercise courage and fortitude in order to obtain goodness.
Fahey disputed the words of President Barack Obama, who spoke recently at Ohio State University. Obama's speech focused on the theme of education for citizenship.
"Our education is not for citizenship," stressed Fahey.
He reminded the graduates to enjoy their lives and be proud of all the poetry, literature, historical drama and art that they have learned at Thomas More College, which he says has prepared them for understanding the world and humanity.
"Man cannot be as big as he wants to be," Fahey said, responding to Obama's speech. "That vision is too small."
He encouraged the seniors to face what might seem dreadful, be aware of their vulnerability and embrace change.
"I will not dare you to do anything as the President did," said Fahey, adding his primary hope is for the graduates to bring to the world their courage.
The 16 graduates sat and listened, laughed and cried during the commencement exercises, as their parents and friends cheered them on for accomplishing a four-year journey filled with unforgettable experiences and tradition.
Anthony M. Esolen, a noted essayist and acclaimed author, was the commencement speaker. He highlighted the sensitive issue of time and how it can affect a person's future.
"Time is filled with eternity," he told the graduates, saying it can often be frenzied.
As time ticks away, the current moment can be neglected, said Esolen, urging the senior class to enjoy the moment and seize the day.
While that may sound like a cliché, he encouraged those in attendance to appreciate "the fullness of time," as every second brings each individual closer to the eternal kingdom of God.
While following commencement addresses everywhere, Esolen said he will speak tradition and plead with the graduates to be great leaders of tomorrow, do great things and think critically.
But above all, Esolen said he wished that each senior would feel joy for eternity.