Home Diocesan News Papal nuncio urges Walsh grads to use their Catholic education to ‘be just’
Papal nuncio urges Walsh grads to use their Catholic education to ‘be just’ Print E-mail
Written by Karen Kastner, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 05 May 2017 13:20

NORTH CANTON – To a capacity crowd at Walsh University’s commencement here April 30, the pope’s representative to the United States emphasized the importance of Christianity and Catholicism as they inform those educated in today’s world.

“As one chapter of your life ends and another commences, leading you to deeper knowledge and wisdom,” Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged the graduates to go forth and use their Catholic education to examine problems and issues, not in a negative way but in a constructive way.

“Find solutions to problems that involves discovery of the truth, the beautiful,” said Archbishop Pierre, who was appointed last year as the papal nuncio to the United States government and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,

At the event held in the gymnasium, Walsh graduated 420 students, their black caps and gowns contrasting with the colorful regalia of their majors. They earned doctorates of nursing practice and physical therapy as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees in a wide range of fields.

Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., offered the invocation, while Father Thomas Cebula, Walsh senior chaplain, gave the benediction.

Archbishop Pierre, who came to his position having previously served as papal nuncio to Mexico, brought first-hand knowledge of the plight of migrants from Central America and Mexico to the United States. His responsibilities include coordinating the search for and vetting of candidates for bishop in the United States.

The first Frenchman to be appointed apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pierre joked during his talk that he was the one person at the event with the proper pronunciation of “commencement” – a word of Old French origin.

When Dr. Douglas Palmer, Walsh provost and academic vice president, followed Archbishop Pierre on stage as master of ceremonies, he took up the nuncio’s pronunciation of the word, much to the delight of the crowd.

During his brief talk, Archbishop Pierre pointed out that it is ironic that commencement occurs at the end of one’s studies. “It is the beginning of a start…. It is a new phase of life,” he told the new Walsh graduates, emphasizing that they have had the privilege of “holistic education so important in today’s world” at their disposal for the rest of their lives.

Many new alumni will go on to secular careers, he observed, while others will matriculate to graduate school or proceed to religious life.

The archbishop cited the teachings of Pope Francis, who, he said, encourages believers in “journeying in the presence of the Lord.”

Archbishop Pierre said that Catholic institutions such as Walsh offer education as an “act of love” rather than as just an opportunity for students to obtain credentials. He noted: “Your professors shape your heads … and your parents shape your hearts … to embrace the path that leads to your heart’s desire.”

He wished the audience “authentic happiness, satisfaction and perfection in this life and the next” and encouraged them to “surrender to love and goodness … to grow in the capacity to be just.”

Founded by the Brothers of Christian Instruction as Walsh College in 1960, the university conferred an honorary doctorate in humane letters to Archbishop Pierre in recognition of his accomplishments, including his support of the brothers who reside and serve at Walsh and their work in Haiti and Uganda.

Also during commencement, the Walsh University Founders’ Award was given to Brother of Christian Instruction Charles Desjarlais, a Walsh alumnus who has traveled the world in his ministry as a brother and is now retiring to the Walsh community.

Established in 1985, the Founders’ Award recognizes those who achieved national attention by demonstrating the ideals that inspired the Venerable John de La Mennais and Father Gabriel Desheyes in establishing the Brothers.

Walsh President Richard Jusseaume said of Brother Charles Desjarlais as an educator and an administrator, “he asks no more of others than he asks from himself.”

A native of Quebec, Brother Charles said his honorary doctorate serves as evidence of his “lifelong pursuit of spirit-filled learning” that he said he hoped his fellow Walsh graduates would model. Regarding the honor, he added, “Everything is a gift even if we don’t understand them when we receive them. They give meaning to our lives.”

In the course of his travels, especially in Haiti and the Philippines, he and his colleagues witnessed and tried to remedy “difficulties of all kinds,” he said.

Other awards given at the ceremony included the Tower of Excellence Award, Walsh’s most prestigious and longstanding honor for service outside the classroom, given to Alexis Howard of McDonald, and the Outstanding Student Award bestowed upon Annie Zaremba of North Canton.

Also recognized were graduates who served in the armed forces: Anthony Heppe, Joshua LeBarre, James Sanders and Joshua Seward, all of the U.S. Army; and Kelly Wells of the U.S. Marines.

Commencement weekend at Walsh included a Baccalaureate Mass the day before at the university’s Health and Wellness Complex.


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