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Cardinal O'Malley to St. Anselm grads: 'World needs caregivers, not cowboys'

Union Leader Correspondent

May 20. 2018 10:29PM
From left, graduating seniors Colton Lafata, Joseph Lamontagne, Laura LaPierre, Ben Larson, and Joshua Leary wait to receive their diplomas. (Travis R. Morin/Union Leader Correspondent)

Reminding the graduates that "we were placed on this earth to take very good care of each other," Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley challenged the class of 2018 to reject a culture of celebrity and individualism. (Travis R. Morin/Union Leader Correspondent)

GOFFSTOWN -- Referencing cowboys, hard-boiled detectives, and action heroes that headlined the serials of his childhood, on Sunday Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, challenged St. Anselm College’s 2018 graduating class to reject what he views as a cultural fascination with individualism.

“We’re all immersed in a culture that lionizes celebrities and exalts the rugged heroes who are the embodiment of the extreme individualism that’s rampant in our society,” said O’Malley. “St. Anselm College and Catholic education exists to present a very different ideal from the popular fascination with celebrity and the exaltation of the anonymous self,” he told graduates.

Delivering his commencement address before scores of friends and family members who packed the Thomas F. Sullivan Arena to celebrate the college’s 474 graduating seniors, O’Malley called on the graduates to live up to the task of working collaboratively to serve as stewards for other people and the world at large.

“In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible,” O’Malley said. “In our connectedness to God, we are connected to each other. Our God has entrusted this world to us, and our task — as our Jewish brothers and sisters say — is to repair the world.

“Our world needs a lot of caregivers and protectors, and Lone Rangers and celebrities won’t cut it.”

Echoing O’Malley’s case for the supreme importance of community, St. Anselm President Dr. Steven R. Di Salvo reminded the students of the role that unity played throughout their time at the college.

Speaking before a sea of black graduation gowns and mortarboards, DiSalvo told graduates their degrees were more than just the end result of time spent in the classroom.

“This was not simply a transfer of knowledge, but rather a course in which to grow academically, socially, and spiritually,” said Di Salvo. “You have been led by the charge to contribute to the common good, and each moment here taught you something about being part of a community, about serving others, and about being prepared.”

Paying homage to St. Anselm’s unique role in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, Di Salvo said that the events of the last election cycle may very well have left the greatest impression on the Class of 2018.

“While your four years undoubtedly went by too fast, it was your last two years that may have left the deepest impression,” he said. “A time when politics became unpredictable, a time when the world became less stable, a time that caused each of us to find peace and strength within each other.”

As the graduates begin their post-college lives in an economy in which the only constant is change, there’s ample evidence to suggest that their new alma mater has given them the very best kind of preparation.

According to data from St. Anselm’s alumni office, 99 percent of the Class of 2017 is either employed, pursuing an advanced degree, or volunteering within six months of last year’s commencement.

Freshly minted with a bachelor’s in elementary education, Julia Ferrante of Rockland, Mass., said the commencement left her feeling bittersweet.

“I just feel like a huge ball of emotion right now,” she said. “I’m happy because this was such a great school and because I’m graduating. At the same time, I’m kind of sad for leaving here, too.”

While she was still in high school, Ferrante was inspired to educate others after volunteering as a religion teacher for a class of fourth-graders.

During her time at St. Anselm College, Ferrante logged approximately 60 hours student-teaching in every grade except kindergarten.

While all of the day’s pomp and circumstance left her beaming with pride, Ferrante said she’s already well on her way to jumping into the workforce.

“Right now I have a second interview lined up for a position teaching first-graders back home in Massachusetts,” Ferrante said. “So, I guess we’ll see how that goes.”

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