Belmont Abbey graduates celebrate their moment in time
BELMONT — The graduates of Belmont Abbey College should appreciate each and every moment and live in the present – not worrying about the past or the future. That piece of wisdom came from Dr. William Thierfelder, president of the Benedictine Catholic college in Belmont, during its 134th annual commencement exercises May 12.
"All of time is present to God," Thierfelder said, so appreciating each moment of the present puts us in closer union with Him. "Trust in Divine Providence," he told the graduates, and do your best out of love for God and one's neighbor.
"That is the secret to peace and happiness."
Pictured above: Elizabeth O'Malley high-fives fellow Belmont Abbey College graduate Harris Moriarty May 12 as they and nearly 400 other students received their bachelor's degrees in the Benedictine college's 134th annual commencement exercises. (Photo by Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor)
The graduating class of nearly 400 students, gathered outside in front of the century-old Mary Help of Christians Abbey Basilica, applauded loudly in response.
But their loudest cheers were reserved for their fellow student speakers: senior class president John Hohenstein IV and Adult Degree Program representative Curtis Lamar Milner. They echoed Thierfelder's point that this was a special moment in their lives – one they will not forget.
"It's official, we're getting old," joked Hohenstein before he continued with his senior address, sometimes choking back tears. "For four years we have lived together, worked together and prayed together. "
He and his fellow students had made the choice to come to this close-knit college community, learning not just the rigorous academics but also the timeless lessons of our Catholic faith and the example of the Benedictine monastic life. That tradition, stability and hospitality will always remain with them, he said.
"Wherever we end up, we take the Abbey with us," Hohenstein said. Then he cracked, "Just think, one day we will be one of those random creepy people we see wandering the hallways."
Then before wrapping up his remarks, Hohenstein took out his smartphone, snapped a photo of the graduating class seated in front of him, and tweeted it. "To my family, the Class of 2012, congratulations. We did it!"
"I thank God, this is a beautiful day," said Milner. He and his fellow ADP graduates had sacrificed time and money to return to college, and it had all been worth it.
"We took the time and invested in ourselves," Milner said. Now, knowing the value of education and satisfaction in achieving one's goals are legacies he can leave his two daughters.
During the commencement program, Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, the former president of Gonzaga University, an acclaimed author and leader in Catholic higher education, was awarded an honorary degree for his exemplary service to Catholic higher education and to the Church. He was also the homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass that preceded the graduation ceremony.
Father Spitzer is the president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, and the Spitzer Center for Catholic Organizations. He is also the chief educational officer for the Ethics and Performance Institute. The Magis Center produces documentaries, books, high school curricula, college courses, adult-education curricula and new media materials to show the close connection between faith and reason in contemporary astrophysics, philosophy and the historical study of the New Testament.
Also honored during the graduation ceremony were:
- Abbey Student of the Year: Paula Isabel Santos Regalado
- Valedictorian: Alexis Boyce Hess
- Adrian Award For Teaching Excellence: Dr. Angela Miss, associate professor of English and chair-elect of the English Department
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor
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