Commencement Address: Part 1

Commencement Address at Franciscan University of Steubenville by John F. Kippley, Dec. 13, 2008: Part 1
Sheila and I want to thank the Franciscan University of Steubenville for this great honor. We especially want to thank Fr. Terence Henry; Fr. Christian Oravec and members of the Board of Trustees; Fr. Michael Scanlan; and Members of the Board of Advisors for honoring our work of the past 40 years in this way.

Honored members of the University, fellow graduates, parents, family and friends, we thank you for being here and for making this school the great University that it is. 

You have honored us for our work in the field of Natural Family Planning and for upholding sexual morality in marriage.  We are most happy to accept this honor not just for ourselves but also on behalf of all those who work in the Natural Family Planning apostolate, and especially on behalf of those who teach as volunteers.  Some couples have been teaching Natural Family Planning —or NFP for short—as volunteers for more than 30 years.  They obviously believe that the NFP apostolate is extremely important. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once was asked what makes a good speech.  He replied, “Be brief, be sincere, and be seated.”  I will try to follow that advice.

Commencement means a beginning, not an ending.  This is the beginning of the life for which you have prepared for the last four years or more.  First, I want to congratulate you for earning your college degrees.  You have worked hard.  You have done research.  You have written papers and passed your examinations.  You are prepared in many different ways to contribute to the various work and social environments in which you will be active.  You are prepared to use your special gifts in the service of your families, your Church, your place of work, and your culture. 

You are about to start working or doing further academic work in a world where your Catholic faith will be challenged.  Your education here at Franciscan University has prepared you to meet these challenges.  In fact, you are among the best prepared college graduates in the world to bring your education and your other gifts to meet those challenges.  You won’t know the answer to every challenge you meet, but part of your education consists in learning how and where to find the answers so that you can continue a constructive dialogue.  Responding in a positive way to the challenges to your faith will provide you with some of your greatest satisfactions in life.  

We all know that you are graduating in tough economic times.  Who could have imagined the current situation when you started your freshman year or graduate studies?  Sheila and I join you in praying that you may soon be working in your chosen field.  May God bless your every effort to use your gifts in his service.

To be continued next week.

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