--President A. Gabriel Esteban, May 19, 2014
Archbishop John J. Myers, Trustees, Regents, Provost Robinson, Vice Presidents, deans, distinguished faculty, members of the priest community, parents, family, guests, friends, and most importantly to our graduates of the class of 2014, congratulations on a job well done. I would also like to welcome our special guests and honorary degree recipients His Eminence Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz and Mary Tedeschi Eberstadt. Thank you for gracing us with your presence.
Last Wednesday I had the privilege of being part of the Mass and commencement ceremonies of our Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. At the end of his homily, Fr. Raymond Cho, asked the graduates to "go forward and bear fruit that will live forever."
"Go forward and bear fruit that will live forever." Such simple yet powerful words. But what kind of fruits will live forever?
Most of you participating in today’s festivities were freshmen the fall of 2010. We share a special link as 2010 was my first year as president of this great institution. You were also part of our largest class in thirty years. What kind of fruits will you bear?
Some of you may remember that the summer reading assignment was Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. The book was about Paul Farmer, a Harvard-trained physician and anthropologist founder of Partners in Health whose goal is to eradicate infectious diseases that kill millions throughout the world. At your freshman convocation, I quoted what I thought was one of the most moving passages in the book. One of Dr. Farmer’s impoverished AIDS patients says to him: "When I was sick and no one would touch me, you used to sit on my bed with your hand on my head." Will his fruits live forever?
Some of you may have read the Dorothy Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness as part of your Journey of Transformation class. Dorothy, along with Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker movement in the midst of the depression in 1933. The movement served as the voice for the unemployed and homeless while providing food, shelter, and clothing to those in need. Will her fruits live forever?
What fruits will you bear? What will your passion be in life? Today I charge you, Seton Hall class of 2014, to find your passion and make the most of your lives and the gifts you’ve been given.
As graduates of this pre-eminent Catholic university and like many more before you, you will have opportunities to bear fruit. Some of you will end up becoming CEOs of major corporations or teachers, please do not forget us. Some of you may become nurses, physical therapists, journalists, musicians, diplomats or priests, please do not forget us as well. Whatever your chosen profession, we ask that you live your lives in service of others guided by the values of this great Catholic university.
In years to come, you and your generation will be evaluated not by the material things you have accumulated in your life, but by the fruit you have borne as servants of others.
When you turn blessings you have been given into blessings for other people, then you will be leaders – true servant leaders.
In one of her last articles in the Catholic Worker in May 1980, Dorothy Day, wrote "We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love each other we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community."
I charge you now, as you go your own way, to take the knowledge and values you have received at Seton Hall into God’s world.
Do not fear the world, rather transform it with love.
Do not condemn the world, rather embrace it with compassion.
Learn to value the people around you –more than the things that surround you.
Stay close to Seton Hall always, and those who will follow you. I ask that you give of yourselves to this community that has nurtured and educated you. I ask that you remain committed servant leaders. Go forth and bear fruit that will live forever.
May the Lord continue to bless you and guide you on your next journey.