Honoring the Class of 2024 at Commencement | Thomas More College

Honoring the Class of 2024 at Commencement

By Cassandra Taylor, Publications Assistant

On Saturday, May 18, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts honored the Class of 2024 at their Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement ceremony.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered for the graduates and their intentions by Msgr. Marc Montminy of the Diocese of Manchester, NH. Several friends of the College concelebrated the Mass, including Abbot Marc Crilly, OSB and Fr. Augustine Senz, OSB (Saint Benedict Abbey, Still River, MA), Fr. Donald Brick, OCD (Saint John’s Seminary, Boston, MA), and Fr. Rory Traynor (Diocese of Manchester, NH).

A spring rain was falling as all gathered under the tent for the graduation exercises later that afternoon. After an invocation by Abbot Marc, Executive Vice President Paul Jackson—standing in for President William Fahey—opened the celebrations on a lighthearted note before turning to the more serious matters at hand. Board Chairman Michael C. Gilleran, Esq. was introduced to confer an honorary doctorate on this year’s Commencement speaker, Carl A. Anderson, former Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Mr. Anderson then addressed the graduating class, choosing to focus on something near to the hearts of all who belong to the Thomas More College community, and which was close to the heart of our patron himself: friendship. He remarked:

. . . what I would like to emphasize today is that Catholic learning opens one up to a special type of friendship within the Catholic intellectual community—not only among faculty and students, but among those whose works you have studied.

Albert, Ambrose, Anselm, Aquinas, Augustine, Benedict, Bernard, and Bonaventure, among many others, are not only great philosophers and theologians. They not only wrote great books—they are also great saints. And because they are saints, they can and they should be your intellectual and spiritual friends. Thomas More College has prepared you for that friendship in a special way.

Mr. Anderson concluded by encouraging the Class of 2024 to follow the example of St. Thomas More:

Thomas More College has prepared you to grow in this friendship and to take on this responsibility. Build your life on spiritual friendship. Be this type of friend to others.

You may one day find yourself accused of stubbornness and obstinacy. There may be a time when the world finds your actions incomprehensible. If you understand friendship as did St. Thomas More—that is, as Christ-centered—then like him you will have a true compass in life. And whatever adversities you may face, like St. Thomas More at the end, you too will be able to say, “I thank our Lord the field is won.”

Mr. Jackson then presented the gift of the Class of 2024: a portrait of Dr. Patrick Powers, who passed away in December 2022. The portrait was done by local artist John Henry Folley, who was formerly a Visiting Fellow at the College in addition to serving as Guildmaster of the Saint Luke Sacred Art Guild. Mr. Jackson remarked on how touching it was that the Class of 2024 chose to solidify the memory of Dr. Powers for years to come, even for future students who will not have had the pleasure of being taught by him. The portrait will eventually be given a permanent home in the Warren Memorial Library, where the College’s classes are held.

The members of the Class of 2024 were then honored with the conferral of their bachelor’s degrees. Diplomas and hoods were bestowed on the graduates by Mr. Jackson, Dean Walter J. Thompson, and Dean of Students Michael Taylor. Dean Thompson, who will be stepping down from his service as Dean of the College with the conclusion of this academic year, then poignantly delivered the presidential exhortation. “My dear Seniors,” he began,

Quite unexpectedly for all of us, it falls to me to deliver the final charge. Despite the surprise—and, as my colleagues will attest, I am not fond of surprises—it seems a fitting conclusion to my service as Dean; and to your careers as students. Indeed, I just learned that I owe you a charge. Miss Choiniere reminded us at the Soirée that you never enjoyed a proper beginning to your time at the College. The whims of the novel coronavirus deprived you of the usual freshman orientation. At that time, in the beginning, in the mountains, I would have spoken to you about your hopes—about the goods you as students should expect and the persons in whom you should trust. Here at the end, in the valley, I will speak to you about what you have accomplished, about what you have brought to an end.

He continued,

It is right that you now cease the good work in which we have been engaged these past four years, the work of your education; for, having brought it to a certain completion, you are ready to live from it.

. . . The time has come for you to assume the responsibilities for which you have been prepared, to take your place among the mature, to take your turn in doing as has been done for you. This is only just.

Your education has, from the beginning, been directed to this end. We have sought to provide you with an education that can be the beginning—that is, the source and start—of a life well lived. So, from the beginning, we have been trying to prepare you to leave us, not that we might cease our work together, but that we might complete it; not that we might be done with you, but that you might lead the lives for which you have been prepared.

And with a final benediction from Abbot Marc, the newest graduates of Thomas More College were thus sent out into the world—most immediately to throw their caps on the lawn of the White House, before celebrating long into the night with a performance by J.D. and the Stonemasons, which counts two TMC alumni among its members.

“So, my dear Seniors, I come, at last, to the end,” Dean Thompson said at the closing of his remarks. “The President would have me remind you of an ineluctable fact of Latin grammar: you are no longer studentes—those striving—a present participle; you are now alumni—those nourished—a past participle. May the good Lord bless and keep you until we meet merrily again, soon or in the end.

“You may now move your tassels.”



For further reading:

Read Dean Thompson’s Exhortation to the Class of 2024

Class of 2024 Defends Senior Theses

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