STANDISH---“Congratulations! You have worked hard and earned the degrees that will be awarded tomorrow (Saturday). This is a great achievement.”
The words of Bishop Robert Deeley were met with smiles of anticipation and accomplishment by the soon-to-be graduates before him as he celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass on Friday morning, officially kicking off Commencement Weekend at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish (additional pictures below).
Hundreds gathered for the celebration, which was held outdoors and under a large tent constructed in the center of campus for the weekend’s festivities. Students and faculty wore robes and marched in a procession at the start of the Mass, which was a beautiful gathering that offered thanks for the blessings God has bestowed upon the graduates and their families and friends, many of whom were in attendance. The Mass was also livestreamed for those who could not participate in person.
The bishop told the Class of 2022 that the weekend’s events are appropriately called “commencement.”
“Though you can be very proud of the degree you will receive, you also know that it marks a beginning, not an end,” Bishop Deeley said during his homily. “You have pursued an education for a purpose, and that purpose looks forward to life and putting into action what you have learned, and hopefully, doing that with concern for others.”
The bishop commended not only the college’s commitment to academic achievement, but also its mission of instilling an understanding of the importance of service and an appreciation of God’s goodness in its students.
Bishop Deeley implored the students to remember always the lesson that we thrive, not as individuals, but “in relation to one another, in community.”
“You know well, my friends, that we live in a troubled time. There is too much confusion, too much anger, too much division in our society. I think it might be suggested that an important cause of our difficulties is the excessive concern with ‘me,’ the individual,” he said. “To live in a way which reflects the values of the Gospel is a beautiful thing, but it is not something that happens without help.”
That help, the bishop reminded the assembly, comes each time the faithful gathers for Mass to receive the Eucharist.
“We receive total love, God’s full embrace. We are, then, to become this love, this unity for the world. That is how the early Church was able to be the community it was,” said Bishop Deeley. “That is how you will do the same with the gifts you have received and which are honored in this Commencement Weekend. Stay close to the Lord Jesus. In him, all things are possible.”
Friday’s Mass was concelebrated by Monsignor Marc Caron, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Portland; Fr. Louis Phillips, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Windham; Fr. Hyacinth Fornkwa, administrator of Holy Family Parish in Greenville and St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Jackman; and Fr. Athanasius Wirsiy.
On Saturday, May 14, close to 500 students will receive master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degrees from the college during its 109th Commencement.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine was founded in 1912, originally based on the grounds of the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse in Portland and moved to the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish in 1956. Rooted in the teachings of Jesus and the doctrines of the Catholic Church and the Sisters of Mercy, the values of Saint Joseph’s College are the foundation of its educational mission: faith, excellence, integrity, community, respect, compassion, and justice.