Franciscan graduates 500 in 2017 ceremony

GRADUATION SPEAKER — About 500 Franciscan University of Steubenville students participated in the 69th commencement exercise on Saturday. Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, was the speaker at the afternoon graduation. Anderson received an honory doctor of humanities degree from the university. -- Mark Law

STEUBENVILLE — About 500 Franciscan University of Steubenville students received degrees Saturday during the university’s 69th commencement exercise.

Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, was the speaker at the afternoon graduation.

“You leave Franciscan today and enter a society that, in many ways, is fundamentally opposed to what you have learned here,” Anderson told the graduates. “Do not allow your spiritual life to decline once you leave this supportive environment. Make the effort now, as you start your careers and families and graduate educations, to commit to a life of prayer, sacrament, and service.”

The Heritage Foundation has been working to advance the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.

“If we have a calling in life, it is because someone has called us,” Anderson said. “God calls each of us by name to a specific path of holiness and service to others.

“And yet, we live in a society that largely avoids thinking seriously about callings. We live in a society of rampant individualism and relativism, where man is the measure of all things. We hear people speak of human rights, for example, but rarely of human goods, or human nature or nature’s Author. We hear people appeal to natural rights, but rarely to natural law or the Natural Law-Giver.”

Anderson told the students they will face the challenge of their faith everywhere their lives take them — in government service, in the marketplace, within their families and in service to the church.

“And we must be prepared to defend truth as never before.”

Anderson said he saw in his time as a student at Princeton University how “misguided secular liberal policies were on the most urgent and important questions, and how much damage — in terms of human brokenness — these policies cause.”

“In a certain sense, all of you will be engaged in nursing a wounded culture as you graduate from this place today. You will encounter the ‘walking wounded,’ and will need to minister to them as part of what Pope Francis has described as the ‘field hospital’ of the church.”

Anderson said universities were a creation of the church

“In the universities established by the church we see the flowering of theology and philosophy, science and medicine, human rights and legal theory, economics and ethics, literature and music and art. All of these disciplines were developed and deployed at the service of the truth, the truth about God and man and nature.”

Anderson told the students that when faced with secularist ideologies, they have the responsibility to show the world the harmony of faith and reason.

“When faced with modern relativism, we have the obligation to propose with the apostle Paul the more excellent way. And this only intensifies as you graduate today and enter a world that is simultaneously hungry for and resistant to your message. Franciscan has given you the tools to continue learning for a lifetime–and to share that knowledge with your neighbors, desperately in need of the truth, even when they don’t realize it.”

Anderson said today’s debates are not primarily about the nature of God or the church, but about the nature of man.

“(Pope) John Paul II taught that the crisis of the 20th century was a crisis of faulty humanism. Secular thinkers thought that by diminishing God, they would be elevating man. Instead, by diminishing God they debased man. The result was world wars, totalitarian regimes, Auschwitz and the Gulag.”

Anderson noted the help students received from their parents throughout their lives. He also urged them to take care of their parents as they age.

“Sadly, this is another point on which our culture is eroding. One of the most alarming developments of the past few years has been the re-opening of the debate about assisted suicide. We live in the most medically advanced era of all of human history, and yet it is only now that we think physician-assisted suicide is a necessity of human dignity. This isn’t because it is medically necessary — it never has been and never will be –it’s because caring for the elderly is inconvenient. And we’re a selfish, individualistic and materialistic people. We’ve come to view the elderly and disabled as burdens, and as a result, they’re coming to view themselves that way. But our best way of fighting this scourge is to love and cherish and care for our elderly.

“This is the part of the love story that Pope Benedict is talking about. Unconditional love to the end.”

Anderson told the graduates the Franciscan community has helped them grow in their faith.

“As you graduate today, find ways to continue that community. Stick together. The world outside this campus is not a friendly place, especially to people who speak the truth. But it needs what you have to offer. It needs what Steubenville has given you. And you need each other. Bear witness to the truth by living out the truth. Go to Mass. Go to confession. Join a parish. Volunteer to teach Sunday school. Get involved in your parish’s school.”

He urged the students to be faithful spouses and devoted mothers and fathers.

“Bear one another’s burdens, persevere through adversity, and let the family you create — the children you raise and the parents you care for — be your best long-term defense of life and marriage. Let the love you create and sustain — the holiness and beauty of your life — be what attracts others to Christ.

“If you remember nothing else that I said today, remember this: Important as academic and professional success may be, God doesn’t ask you to be successful according to worldly standards, he asks you to be faithful. The only success of ultimate importance is holiness. The only real tragedy in life is not to have been a saint.”

Patrick Leoncioni received an honorary doctor of science degree. He is the founder and president of The Table Group and cofounder of the Amazing Parishes Conferences.

The Bishop David A. Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh received an honorary doctor of Christian ethics degree.

The graduates include:

Ohio: Dustin Terpenning, Benjamin Erste, Brooke Carroll, Theresa Baker, Anthony Clements, Francesca Clements, Bloomingdale; Melissa Sobleski, Brianna McCune, Lori Donahue, Kari Sowers, Cadiz; Zachary Thomas, Amanda Richards, Dillonvale; Aaron Mattioli, East Springfield; Erin Smith, Hammondsville; Douglas Forrester, Kathy Roski, Hopedale; Lindsay Brandon, Irondale; Emma Starre, Jewett; Tyler Kramer, Hannah Reynard, Joshua Malesky, Mingo Junction; Pamela Becca, Rayland; Mikayla Tice, Sydney Eroshevich, Marian Proffitt, Caitlin Gulling, Richmond; Jacqueline Conigliaro, Michael Aldrich, Kathleen Hernon, Peter Herrmann, Mary Hostetler, Philip Icuss, Qua’Shon Lindsey, Catherine McManamon, Joseph Pizzino, Rachael Popcak, Mary Sollom, Marc Barnes, Alexander Anderson, Joseph Economico, Joseph Dantona, Susanna Almeida, Robert Callahan, Laila Chesla, Timothy Childers, Pia Crosby, Devin Delatore, Courtney Desmond, Catherine Gaston, William Girone, Dawn Gombar, Robert Goodman, Kathryn Ice, Samuel Ivkovich, Florence James, Monica Jones, Aaron Kelly, Alexandra Kilonsky, Anthony Lee, Marie Lopez, Haley McCalister, Caroline Minto, Lisa Perron, Richard Perry, Andrew Rankin, Lorenzo Resendez, Rebecca Siemens, Erin Urness, Catherine Venditti, Cole Viscichini, Maria Wendt, Charles Westerhold, Zachary Willi, Salvador Brambila, David Fay, Emily Gadbois, Robert Gadbois, YuJin Kim, Sean Kirk, Teresa Leis, Caitlin Mason, Riley Provost, Carlos Rivas, Peter Rosaschi, William Scott, Matthew Tomeny, Edward Wamala, Valerie Wark, Steubenville; Brennan Baker, Mark Recznik, Emma Ruminski, Kathleen Briggs, Sr. Katherine Caldwell, Anthony Mattioli, Andrew Ruberto, Vincent Droddy, Toronto; Samantha Giannamore, Rose Miletic, Dustin Bates, Catherine Beigel, Briana Corella, Megan Hukill, Margaret Kissinger, Raelynn Paris, Theresa Recznik, Melody Wright, Wintersville.

West Virginia: DeJae Jewell, Nicole Grishkevich, Michael Shaw, Colliers; Amanda Barnett, John Barnett, Follansbee; Jennie Walters, Caitlyn Fodor, Leah Velto, Serra Alongi, Christopher Engle, Wesley Holloway, Ellen Manypenny, Jasmin Prudlo, Jamie Renner, Kristina Rustemeyer, Stephen Tuttle, Weirton.