MERRIMACK — For the 18 graduates of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts’ Class of 2014, the most important lessons are those of a higher calling.
During a tent ceremony on the lawn of the close-knit Catholic college Saturday afternoon, President William Fahey noted the significance of the date, May 17.
“The Ark came to rest on the 17th day,” Fahey noted. “And 17 years ago, Thomas More College was celebrating its 17th graduation. And the Romans understood the numbers to be an anagram for the words, ‘I have lived. I have lived well.’ Now May 17 is yours, seniors. You share it with the ages.”
Fahey said some of this year’s graduates would pursue religious callings, while others would become teachers, lawyers, professionals, artists or parents. But regardless of what the future holds, he stressed the importance of staying true to one’s principles.
Commencement speaker Jonathan Reyes, former president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo., and acting executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reminded the graduates to always be grateful for all that’s been given to them.
Paraphrasing the words of Pope Francis, Reyes said, “A successful speech can be reduced to three words.”
“My words for you are: gift, magnanimity and encounter,” Reyes said. “Remember at each moment, God is holding each and every one of us.”
The Virginia father of seven, whose direct work with 26 Catholic bishops regularly brings him to struggling areas of the United States and Latin America, warned that life comes with certain challenges.
Reyes was awarded an honorary doctorate during Saturday’s commencement ceremony.
“You’ll all face trials, because that’s part of the plan,” Reyes said. “Gratitude is necessary to carry you through every difficulty that will come your way.”
Encouraging them to take the road less traveled, Reyes added, “Your vocation is, it itself, a call to greatness. Remember, our own Lord’s life was seen as a failure from the earliest perspective.”
Sharing brief passages from the Gospels, Reyes recounted the experiences of a young Jesus Christ in the days leading up to His condemnation and crucifixion.
“Don’t be surprised if the person you become isn’t always appreciated,” he added. “Often, the seeds of a renewed civilization are sown in small places and the spiritual forces that truly transform are working under the surfaces.”
This year’s Thomas More College of Liberal Arts graduates are: Yvonne Dion, Oliver Domina, Stephen Ferry, Paul Guenzel, Joshua Keatley, Devin King, Brennan Kroger, Kristina Landry, Catherine Mazzarella, Liam Mitchell, Maria O’Brien, Lux Palmer-Kamprath, Elisabeth Rochon, Alexander Sanderson, Bridget Skidd, Anna Tardiff, Christopher Vasselin and Jonathan Wanner.