Then Dr. John Goyette, dean of the California campus, took to the podium. “Mr. Cooper was congratulating you and patting you on the back, but I have a different task,” he quipped. Plundering his memory of the past four years with the Class of 2023, the dean shared some seniors’ best shenanigans, from classroom pranks to the eccentricities of life in the male residence halls.
Dr. Goyette finished, however, on a more serious note. “You spent four years in a rigorous program learning about the highest things, and so we expect great things from you,” he said. “Heed the advice of Pope Benedict XVI, who said, ‘The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.’ Be serious — but don’t take yourselves too seriously.”
Finally, Dr. Paul O’Reilly, president of Thomas Aquinas College, delivered his remarks. “As you approach your graduation and your ‘return to the world,’ I think it would serve you well to have a good example to follow,” said Dr. O’Reilly. The example he proposed, inspired by a sermon of St. John Henry Newman, was St. Andrew the Apostle.
Like him, “we should be open to the truth even if it turns our lives upside-down,” said Dr. O’Reilly. “Andrew’s role in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes suggests that we, too, should follow the example of Jesus’s mother. And finally, his role in the beginning of bringing the Gentiles to Jesus suggests that we, too, should have the courage and confidence of faith.”
At last, after toasting and a final blessing from Head Chaplain Rev. Robert Marczewski, the gathering ended with a trip to a nearby bowling alley for a bit of healthy competition between the seniors and the faculty — a bittersweet conclusion to four years of pursuing the truth in a community of friends.