Class of 2008 Sent Forth With Stirring Words From Prominent Catholic Leaders
numbers 80 sisters, Mother Long knows much about building up God's kingdom. It was for this work, and her assistance with the founding of the Sisters for Life, that she was awarded an honorary doctorate in humanities and given the privilege to speak to the Class of 2008.
Any steps to rebuild a culture in a Catholic vision require humility and sometimes suffering.
"I hope you will be martyrs," she said. "To be a martyr simply means that you witness to Christ. There are the bloody ones and perhaps God will call you to be one. I hope so. But I am particularly speaking of those who witness by their very lives, namely white martyrs. To live a fully Christian life means martyrdom. To witness, in season and out of season, that you believe all the truths of the holy Catholic Church and live those truths in your every word and action, is to be a martyr."
Two priests with long ties to Franciscan University also received honorary degrees.
Father Ronan Deegan, TOR, '53, was the first graduate of the College of Steubenville to be ordained a Third Order Regular priest. Today Father Deegan is pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Moundsville, West Virginia.
"Don't be afraid to go to confession," he told the graduates. Recounting his association with the first TOR friars who served at the College of Steubenville, he said, "And stay close to the Franciscan friars here—they'll carry you through [hardships]."
Monsignor Kurt Kemo attended the College of Steubenville as part of his preparation toward becoming a priest for the Diocese of Steubenville. Currently, he serves as vice-chair of the Presbyteral Council and vicar general of the diocese, among other positions.
"Don't be afraid," he said, echoing the phrase often ascribed to Pope John Paul II, but which he noted can be found 88 times in the Old Testament alone. "Christ taught us repeatedly not to fear because Jesus put an end to the greatest fear—the fear of death. God does not want us to live in fear. He wants us to live in faith."
The commencement events were attended by members of the Board of Trustees and by Father Christian Oravec, TOR, minister provincial of the Sacred Heart Province of the Franciscan Friars Third Order Regular and chairman of the Board of Trustees, who gave the official welcome at the undergraduate commencement ceremony.
Among those graduating were 149 students who completed their studies either in August or December 2007. For the first time, Franciscan University will hold separate ceremonies for August/December graduates, which will be held on December 13, 2008.
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