Notre Dame News https://news.nd.edu/ Notre Dame News gathers and disseminates information that enhances understanding of the University’s academic and research mission and its accomplishments as a Catholic institute of higher learning. en-us 2019-05-19T23:24:30+0000 Annelise Gill-Wiehl: 2019 Invocation https://news.nd.edu/news/annelise-gill-wiehl-2019-invocation/ news_100363 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News As is our tradition at the University of Notre Dame, let us begin with prayer.   Loving Father, On this occasion of the 174th Commencement Ceremony of the University of Notre Dame, we pause to praise you for all that you have done. We thank you for sustaining Notre Dame from a humble beginning to a major academic…

Annelise Gill-Wiehl: 2019 Invocation

Notre Dame News

As is our tradition at the University of Notre Dame, let us begin with prayer.

 

Loving Father,

On this occasion of the 174th Commencement Ceremony of the University of Notre Dame,

we pause to praise you for all that you have done.

We thank you for sustaining Notre Dame from a humble beginning to a major academic

institution today.

 

You gave us courage as we began our journey.

Through your grace, we found a home here with space to study the past, research the

interconnectedness of your world, live in the present, and worship your name.

 

We thank you for providing guidance and wisdom

to formulate opinions and study the work of your hands.

As we faced exams and conflicts, there was comfort in knowing we were not alone.

 

You were patient as we changed majors and discerned our vocations,

and paths beyond these hallowed grounds.

You provided the professors, family, and friends that have surrounded, nurtured, and

encouraged us.

You have made possible the accomplishments we celebrate today.

 

We ask for your continued support as we conclude our time here at Notre Dame.

Give us fortitude to persevere in the face of the unknown.

 

Through your intercession:

help us to bring all people together,

to seek liberation of the oppressed,

to work towards an end to poverty and suffering,

and to find relief and a cure for the sick.

 

Inspire us to continue investigating and moving the world around us.

Challenge us to carry our passions with us and pursue work for the betterment of

humanity.

Raise us up when we fall and allow us to proceed on the path you have illuminated.

Walk with us as Graduates from Our Lady’s University.

 

We ask this in your name, One God, forever and ever.

 

Please be seated.

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Sofia Carozza: 2019 Valedictory Address https://news.nd.edu/news/sofia-carozza-2019-valedictory-address/ news_100364 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News Ms. Noonan, Father Jenkins, Dr. Francis, distinguished faculty and guests, dear friends and loved ones: Welcome and thank you for celebrating with us today, especially those of you who traveled a long way to be here.   Now, to my fellow members of the class of 2019: We are invited today to step forth from this institution. We are invited to exit this arena, and greet what lies ahead. It’s an invitation to respond to what we’ve been given by putting our learning in the service of justice. Will you say “yes”?…

Sofia Carozza: 2019 Valedictory Address

Notre Dame News

Ms. Noonan, Father Jenkins, Dr. Francis, distinguished faculty and guests, dear friends and loved ones: Welcome and thank you for celebrating with us today, especially those of you who traveled a long way to be here.

 

Now, to my fellow members of the class of 2019: We are invited today to step forth from this institution. We are invited to exit this arena, and greet what lies ahead. It’s an invitation to respond to what we’ve been given by putting our learning in the service of justice. Will you say “yes”?

 

One of the most inspiring examples of saying “yes” in my life is the story of Aldo Trento. Originally from Italy, Aldo was sent to Paraguay as a missionary in 1989. He had no idea what awaited him, but upon his arrival he opened his heart to the community. He began to welcome the ill, the hurt, and the abandoned into his home. These relationships eventually grew into a foundation that serves the needs of the poorest of Asunción’s poor. I had the privilege of spending a summer with his niños, the children in his orphanage. And as I worked alongside Aldo, I witnessed his extraordinary joy in the midst of darkness. I saw that Aldo had become fully alive by responding to the needs of others, by saying “yes” to his calling.

 

It was a “yes” a bit like Aldo’s that brought us all here four years ago. As young and hopeful seniors in high school, we chose to accept the invitation to attend Our Lady’s University. This demanded hard work and sacrifice. Not just from us, but from our parents, coaches, and teachers back home. To all who supported our education, thank you. Words cannot express our gratitude.

 

Because saying “yes” to a Notre Dame education has changed everything for us. It’s taught us how to live a truly human life. As my freshman seminar professor taught me, I’ll frame this in three points. There are three lessons from our time here, lessons on living a truly human life. These lessons will serve us well as we step forward from Notre Dame.

 

Lesson #1. We are not just a mind, but a body and a spirit.

 

We’ve all heard Blessed Basil Moreau’s words, “the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” But it’s not a trite cliché here at Notre Dame. It’s enacted. We saw it in the professors who cared about our flourishing, and didn’t just see us as a brain in a vat. We saw it when we ran the Holy Half with our friends, or fought in Bengal and Baraka Bouts for the Holy Cross missions. We saw it when we fed our spirits on pilgrimage and retreat. We saw it as we expanded our horizons through Appalachia seminars and study abroad.

 

Our education didn’t just happen in DeBart. Because as humans, we are not merely “thinking things,” as Descartes would have us believe. We are physical, spiritual, moral, and social beings. So our worth cannot be measured by our productivity, nor our dignity by the quality of our resume. No one helps us see this more clearly than St. Andre Bessette, a Holy Cross brother who had no formal education. He wasn’t considered smart enough to become a priest, so he spent his life opening the door of St. Joseph Oratory. And yet this doorman’s love, his welcome of the sick and outcast, made him the first saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross. As the playwright Paul Claudel put it, “What is the value of the world in comparison with life? And what is the value of life if not to be given?”

 

Notre Dame is full of incredible mentors who helped us live according to this different standard of value. We each met professors, rectors, staff, and Holy Cross priests who are living examples of what it means to be truly human. Personally, I am deeply indebted to Dr. Nancy Michael, who taught me how to be a neuroscientist. Through her knowledge of brain structure, Dr. Michael engaged every part of my life. As a scientist, she modeled for me what it means to be a loving mother and a fearless community leader. She challenged me to love others fiercely, to put my convictions into action, and to cultivate wonder at the miracle of my own life.

 

Mentors like Dr. Michael helped us see that Notre Dame wasn’t just a training ground for our future career. Our education was the formation of our whole person. So it demanded that we engage questions of ultimate meaning and value, that we freely debate and disagree in our pursuit of truth. Because, as Pope John Paul II wrote, we are “guided by the certainty of always knowing the fount of truth,” the One for whom our hearts were made. For whom our hearts were made. Because we are not just a mind. We are a body and spirit as well.

 

Lesson #2. Risk everything for others.

 

Through our time here we’ve learned to let go of our comfort and our pride, and move beyond our fear. Because a Notre Dame education puts everything at risk. We had to let go of what we thought we already knew. We had to allow what we learned — in the classroom, in our dorms, in the South Bend community — to change us.

 

This part of our education started on day one in our dorms. Living with randomly assigned roommates challenged our preconceptions. We were invited into relationship with people who were different from us — different in small things like sleeping habits and majors and different in big things, like nationality and ideology. We were invited into friendships with campus workers, who reminded us that we weren’t here for our self-interest, but to strive together toward a common good. Because we need each other, we need each member of the Notre Dame family.

 

Last year, I traveled to El Salvador through Campus Ministry to explore the life of Oscar Romero. Romero was called to action by the unjust suffering of the poor. He said “yes,” sacrificing comfort and ultimately his life for the liberation of his people. On the final day of the pilgrimage, we had the privilege of celebrating Mass at the site of his martyrdom. His canonization had just been announced. So at that Mass, I said the words “Saint Romero” for the first time. And I knew St. Romero was inviting me to a truly human love. Not a love of humanity in the abstract, but a painful and messy love of the people right in front of me. As the Russian novelist Dostoevsky wrote, “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

 

Such a love asks us to embrace our needs. To confront our failures. To ask the difficult questions. To open up about our mental illness, our loneliness, and our confusion. Because at a Catholic university, suffering cannot be a reason for shame or silence. Our places of darkness are opportunities for encounter and healing.

 

And only by embracing our own needs, and moving beyond our fear, can we put our learning in the service of justice. My friends have researched the homelessness crisis, founded prison ministries, and lived at Catholic Worker Houses. After graduation, some are entering the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, others are doing ACE, and still others are going into politics. Because we’ve learned that, while we aren’t meant to help or save others, we must get our hands dirty working alongside them. Saying “yes” to this risk can be uncomfortable, painful, and costly. But in the words of Luigi Giussani, “The condition for being true in a relationship is sacrifice.”

 

Only through sacrifice will we find fulfillment. We become truly human by giving of ourselves, by pouring ourselves out in love — no matter our chosen career. We are going forward from Notre Dame not as bystanders, but as protagonists of justice and mercy. So we must risk everything.

 

Lesson #3. Live reality intensely.

 

Ultimately, the invitation we receive, every day, is this: to live reality. We are called to live exactly what we have in front of us. This means confronting life’s problems. The dramatic ones, like a death in the family or a loss of faith. But also the not-so-dramatic ones. Here at Notre Dame, we’ve learned to confront the boredom of our Gen Chem homework, the sacrifice of caring for a sick roommate, the dreariness of the bus to O’Hare. And now, we’re asked to confront the challenges of a 9-to-5 job, a new city, or a long commute to work. If we pay attention to reality, we will see that even in these burdens there is a promise. There is something positive offered to us. It’s the kindness in the gaze of a stranger. The beauty of a sunrise on your morning commute. The comfort of sharing your worries with a fellow Domer. If we stay attentive, these moments will show us that there is an answer to life’s deepest questions, inviting us to discover it. It’s possible to live the challenges of life in a truly human way. I’ve learned this by sharing daily life with the women of Cavanaugh Hall. I’m still a beginner, still learning to live my reality intensely. But I’m certain that if we are to be happy, we must take this invitation seriously.

 

What do we need for the journey? We need the grace to work hard, and the willingness to serve others. We need to make choices, rather than keeping every door open out of fear. And ultimately, we need a community. A companionship that reminds us who we are, that helps us take risks, and that re-awakens us to the meaning of life. This companionship won’t come automatically. We won’t be able to walk down the hall of our section and find our closest friends anymore. We will face loneliness, but we can bear this burden without settling for less. Because at Notre Dame we haven’t just been given a community, but been formed to create community. And as Blessed Moreau reminds us, the Cross is our only hope, and this hope does not disappoint.

 

Class of 2019, we have been extraordinarily blessed on this campus. And who we are is not measured by the number of the opportunities in front of us, but by how we respond to what has been given to us. Today, we are invited to respond to the gift of our education, fearlessly. We are invited to say “yes” to a truly human life. To say “yes” to our calling, just as Aldo Trento did thirty years ago, and the Patroness of this University did two thousand years ago. Our Lady is looking down from her perch on the Golden Dome on this day, as on all days. She will accompany us as we, too, are invited to bring justice and peace into this world. If we respond as Mary did, with our whole selves, and risk everything as we seek to live our reality intensely, we will set the world on fire. Will you say “yes”?

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Citation for the 2018 Laetare Medalist https://news.nd.edu/news/citation-for-the-2018-laetare-medalist/ news_100365 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News As the writer James Baldwin once said to a group of teachers, “The paradox of education is precisely this: that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” While you are the product of Catholic education from kindergarten to juris doctor, you were also born into the American South at a time when even Sunday Mass was segregated. Had you despaired at the society in which you were being educated, no one could have blamed you. But you didn’t.…

Citation for the 2018 Laetare Medalist

Notre Dame News

As the writer James Baldwin once said to a group of teachers, “The paradox of education is precisely this: that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”

While you are the product of Catholic education from kindergarten to juris doctor, you were also born into the American South at a time when even Sunday Mass was segregated. Had you despaired at the society in which you were being educated, no one could have blamed you. But you didn’t.

Instead, as the first African American student admitted to Loyola University New Orleans Law School, you broke the color barrier for those who came behind you. As the beloved president of Xavier University for a remarkable forty-seven years, you built a better society by educating thousands of African American students, and, as adviser to popes and presidents, you called your Church and country to racial justice.

As you have said, “Education is the road out of poverty; there is no doubt about that.” You have helped pave that road for thousands of young people. And when the levee broke in New Orleans, the loss of your own home did not distract you from leading the recovery efforts—at Xavier and beyond.

For your persistent witness to the power of Catholic education; for your visionary courage that shepherded a storm-weary region to restoration and rebirth; for your love of God and country that won’t rest until all are equally free as intended by their Creator, the University of Notre Dame rejoices to confer its highest honor, the Laetare Medal on

Norman Christopher Francis

New Orleans, Louisiana

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Esther Takeuchi: 2019 Graduate School Commencement Address https://news.nd.edu/news/esther-takeuchi-2019-graduate-school-commencement-address/ news_100386 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News Good morning everyone! I am delighted to share this wonderful occasion with you today. In particular, I am humbled to receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame, and I sincerely thank President Jenkins and all who supported my candidacy. I pledge to redouble my professional and personal efforts to be worthy of joining the proud ranks of Notre Dame alumni, including the newest Notre Dame alumni honored here today.…

Esther Takeuchi: 2019 Graduate School Commencement Address

Notre Dame News

Good morning everyone! I am delighted to share this wonderful occasion with you today. In particular, I am humbled to receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame, and I sincerely thank President Jenkins and all who supported my candidacy. I pledge to redouble my professional and personal efforts to be worthy of joining the proud ranks of Notre Dame alumni, including the newest Notre Dame alumni honored here today.

Isaac Newton once reflected that his contributions to science were enabled by the work which preceded him. I can envision that all of you present today have the potential to do great work, so I wish to take a few minutes to provide you with a foundation from which you might make the world a better place.

My career started much in the same way as yours will, with a solid graduate education in the field of your choice. I had little idea what my future held for me, but I believed that life would provide me with opportunities to do good work, as long as I provided constant effort and a constructive, positive attitude.

My first job after graduation was in a large petrochemical company, where I drew directly on my knowledge of organic chemistry, which was my major in graduate school. After a year, I had the opportunity to conduct postdoctoral research with a university electrochemist, and I felt seizing an opportunity to intellectually grow in a field new to me would provide me with additional career opportunities in the future. One postdoctoral research experience in electrochemistry led to another postdoctoral experience, and in a short time I had worked with two major electrochemistry research groups in the U.S.

Because of my knowledge of organic chemistry and electrochemistry, I was recruited to join a small family-owned company which manufactured batteries for implantable pacemakers. The founder of the company, Wilson Greatbatch, also the name of the company, was the person who held the original patents for the implantable pacemaker, which he licensed to a large medical manufacturing firm. It is important to realize that at that time, the notion of implantable battery-powered devices was entirely new, and he realized pacemakers would need batteries that were special and not currently available. Thus, the business he started was to design and manufacture batteries for medical devices, and I was one of the earlier Ph.D. employees to join the company.

Although I had no previous experience in the science of batteries, I was thrilled to be a part of a company which was dedicated to such an important enterprise which could change people’s life span and quality of life. Since Wilson Greatbatch Limited was a small and young company when I joined (~150 people), I had the opportunity to converse on numerous occasions with the founder of the company. He was a firm believer in innovation, constantly curious and driven to do right by the ultimate customer, the patient.

When I started at the company, I had no idea what my research would involve nor how my life would unfold. All I knew is that my knowledge and work experience would take me places I could not have predicted upon graduation. For example, I had not planned to pursue medically related research as a profession, but my background and fate provided me with the opportunity to make a contribution. I would meet this challenge as I met all challenges, with hard work, optimism, and a positive attitude.

My first project was the development of a battery to power the implantable cardiac defibrillator. Most of you are familiar with the external defibrillator. The device has paddles that are put on a patient’s chest in case of a heart attack due to cardiac arrhythmia. A large shock is delivered to the patient’s chest to restore their heart to its normal rhythm. The implantable cardiac defibrillator was invented for people who had a tendency for this condition as there are only a few minutes to revive someone. The implantable device would travel with them at all times inside their chest. The implantable cardiac defibrillator really is a marvelous device: It monitors the heart continuously and the device delivers an electrical shock if needed to save the person’s life. The device was demonstrated, but could not be completely tested and released because there were no batteries available to power the device appropriately. At the time I started this project, the battery being used only lasted one year. We knew that doing surgery on heart patients every year was not viable clinically. The goal for the battery was five years of life, enough power to defibrillate a patient, and small enough to be implantable. Imagine a battery only slightly larger than your cell phone battery that could last 5 years without recharge.

At my company, we only had experience with implantable pacemaker batteries. Thus, I compared an implantable pacemaker with an implantable cardiac defibrillator: a pacemaker delivers a small amount of energy to the heart regularly, in order to control the rhythm of the beating heart, while a defibrillator delivers a large amount of energy to the heart in order to restore a fibrillating heart to regular rhythm. The amount of energy a defibrillator battery provides in one event is approximately one million times the amount of energy a pacemaker delivers for one heartbeat. Using one million pacemaker batteries connected together is not a viable option! It was clear we needed an entirely new battery, one which could deliver an unheard-of amount of energy in the medical field, safely and reliably, with no harm to the patient. We set off to do just that and pursued the project.

I can still remember standing in lab wearing lab glasses, gloves, a light blue lab coat, and hearing the news of the first human implant in Australia of a battery that we had made. That was remarkably exciting news, and we were hopeful that things would continue to move ahead. We knew that the next big challenge was getting the battery approved by the FDA for human implant in the U.S. and that was our next target. Each step along the way required moving toward the next goal, addressing the challenges in front of us and to keep going. The battery enabled the widespread adoption of the implantable cardiac defibrillator. The device is so effective that clinical trials were halted as it could not be justified to deny the device to any patient who could benefit from it. Now, more than 25 years later, the battery technology we developed remains dominant and has been responsible for saving many millions of lives.

In 2004, I was honored to be elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, for technology and engineering necessary to take the basic science of lithium metal and silver vanadium oxide, the two major components of my battery, and turn it into a real product, which saved millions of lives, young and old, and caused the small company I first joined to go to an IPO and be traded as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange! In 2009, I was honored to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama for my work with the implantable cardiac defibrillator battery. Candidly, I never envisioned any of my research to result in me going to the White House and being honored by the president of the United States! On a personal note, there are still few women in engineering, technology, and invention, and with the recognition I have received, I am honored to be a role model for future women who aspire to use their STEM talents towards invention.

After a wonderful career in industry, I was invited to become a faculty member in a university and I seized upon the opportunity. Although I had great experiences in industry, I was also driven and in some ways limited by industrial realities such as sales, marketing, change of management, and profit margins. In academics I can conduct basic research on the science and technology of energy storage with potential for many applications, including medical devices, electric vehicles, and batteries for the electric grid to enable more widespread adoption of renewable energy generation such as solar and wind power. I now have the opportunity to use my knowledge from industry to design new ways to educate graduate students, which will enable academics and national laboratories to address issues of critical importance to industry, without involving the students as industrial employees. Thus, the students are still learning basic science and publishing, but they are working collaboratively and across disciplines. They understand the needs of industry without becoming industrial employees.

What piece of advice do I wish to share with you all? Love what you do. Nurture your innate skills, whatever they are; cherish your abilities; welcome new opportunities; and finish all of your tasks with hard work, determination, and optimism.

My career is defined by my desire to do the best that I could no matter what I am doing, to focus on taking the next step, and to keep going in spite of any challenges or frustrations. Any path to do something meaningful includes challenges. It is critical to keep moving forward. It is important to appreciate the journey as well as the goal. When I started on the project to develop a battery for the implantable cardiac defibrillator, on a broad level I knew it was important. However, we did not know if we would succeed. The research and development was filled with challenges as well as successes. I pursued the goal and stayed on the journey not contemplating some future glory, but motivated to do the best that I could given the challenge.

Sometimes the advice that I hear is: Do what you love. That is a very different statement from love what you do. I have even heard students talk about their own dilemma, where they do not like what they are good at doing and are not good at doing what they love. This thinking needs to be modified. If you are good at something, glory in it. You have abilities that are a gift. It is your responsibility to use your abilities to make the world a better place. Take pride in yourself, take pride in your abilities. If you are good at something, take it as a sign. You are to use your abilities and your talents to the fullest extent possible. At any time, you can only love what you know from your experiences to date. If you pursue what you love, you are limited by your own knowledge base. If you love what you do, you can continue to grow, expand, and adapt as your knowledge and experiences grow.

Take pride in yourself. Respect the talents and abilities that you have been given. It is your responsibility to develop them, and then to use them for the good of others. As you continue to learn, continue to grow, and use your talents constructively, you will without a doubt love what you do.

That is your goal: Do the best you can to use your abilities, enjoy every minute of the journey, and love what you do.

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Norman Francis: 2019 Laetare Address https://news.nd.edu/news/norman-francis-2019-laetare-address/ news_100422 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News President Jenkins, faculty, families, friends, and of course the class of 2019. Congratulations to you. Now I have a speech here and I knew it was a good speech because all of my friends here and my honorary degree recipients all used it.   So I was watching the clock and said, well, they told me I had three minutes. Well, I can’t say my name in three minutes. But I’m so happy at least to be graduating in 2019 with two honorary degrees from Notre Dame.…

Norman Francis: 2019 Laetare Address

Notre Dame News

President Jenkins, faculty, families, friends, and of course the class of 2019. Congratulations to you. Now I have a speech here and I knew it was a good speech because all of my friends here and my honorary degree recipients all used it.

 

So I was watching the clock and said, well, they told me I had three minutes. Well, I can’t say my name in three minutes. But I’m so happy at least to be graduating in 2019 with two honorary degrees from Notre Dame.

 

Now, you have to understand how important that is. You see, my mother and father did not graduate from high school. Now, faculty members, I want to congratulate you untiringly for what you've done for this class. And I say that because I had the honor of saying to the faculty members, in kind words, that though my mother and father did not graduate from high school, they were two of the smartest people I knew. And that included the faculty of my institution. They didn’t fire me. They let me stay 47 years. And I want to congratulate all of my colleagues and particularly for our guest speaker.

 

I spent 34 years on Plessy v. Ferguson. I don’t know if there are too many people in here who know what Plessy v. Ferguson was. I’m saying this to you because I have such gratitude to the University of Notre Dame for choosing me for the Laetare Medal. And I’m sorry that my mother and father are not here today, and my wife of 60 years, and I say this to you because I was never intended to be standing at this podium. But I am here. You know, I said a prayer the other day and I said, God, I’ve done a lot of, I hope, good things, but I’m not sure what you want me to do next. I said, you're being a little slow in responding. But I am here.

 

Let me say to you, I’m speaking not for myself. I’m speaking for a large number of people who never got the opportunity to speak at a podium like this at a great university. And I say this to you because I think — maybe I should say, I know — that America has lost in that era, in Plessy v. Ferguson, some of the greatest Americans to be, but who never got the chance to do it. So I’m not speaking for myself personally. I’m speaking for the people who never got the chance. And when I decided to make some notes, I decided to choose maybe a couple of things, but I’m going to choose only one this morning, because I know you’re sitting there saying, “Oh, God, when is he ever going to stop talking?” Well, 47 years taught me a little bit about being a president and staying too long.

 

The issue today in America is many-fold. And the one that I think is so important that was mentioned today by our valedictorian speaker is that poverty is growing like wildfire in America today. I don’t think we all appreciate how and why poverty is, across the board. What I call the quality-of-life issues. There is no equality in the quality-of-life issue. You just think of any one of them, from education to health to housing to employment. It is not equal and it's far from being equitable.

 

So I’m trying to put my little piece in. And let me say before I go much further, I have total faith in my country. I have total faith in myself and I have total faith that all of us are going to come together, but apparently not immediately. Apparently. And I don’t think there’s anyone in here today who believes that the playing field is equal.

 

And part of that was Plessy v. Ferguson. It was like a volcano, and the aftershocks are still around. Why I’m so happy to be here and to have heard the beauty of the discussions here in the speeches is that you are the ones. You are the ones that are going to make this country even better than it is. And it’s not in the future. The future is now.

 

There’s an old saying, a Chinese proverb, that says, “Too late to dig a well, when the house is on fire.” So you are going to have to do a lot more than has been done by some of us. And we were taught to try to do it, but we haven’t done that yet.

 

Education is the roadway out of poverty. No way you turn it upside down if you’re not educated in a country like America. And so the question is, what are we going to do to make sure that education fulfills what God intended to each one of you? Each one of you is going to be expected to be a leader. I don’t care where you are, whether you’re in a lodge somewhere, or one of the fraternities. You are going to have to be leaders. You can’t sit around and just talk. You’ve got to do something. And why I’m happy to be here: I wanted to speak, in part, to plead with you to make the distribution of education from elementary school to where you are equitable.

 

The road is in education and it’s going to have to be distributed equitably. Equitably. You’ve heard my introduction and, yes, I chair the commission to bring up Louisiana and a part of Mississippi after Katrina. The governor asked me to chair that. I had lost my house. I was about to lose the university. My God, I don’t know what I'm going to be doing. My wife had her own ideas about that and she probably was right, but I thought she was wrong. And I stand here today to you to apologize to her in front of you, to say I should have given her much more attention than I did. But I was fighting with my colleagues to be equitable in distributing the resources we have.

 

I guess it is a senator from Louisiana — I don't know if you know anything about Louisiana and politics and so forth; it’s kind of complicated — but it comes down to is there going to be the leadership that's going to distribute it equitably. But this senator stood up and said, “Well, I’m so happy we have somebody who's going to distribute the money equally.” And I said, “I apologize, but that's not the way we're going to do it.” “Oh, I thought you believed in equal opportunity, clear distribution.” I believe in that, but I believe in, ethically, that if you had a 50 percent loss and we get money for repair, we gave you 50 percent of the money, and that gets you back where you hope to be. But if I distributed it with the committee equally, you’re going to be in the same boat you were before Katrina. So I’m here to plead with you that all of us are going to have to come together, I said it earlier, as partners, to be able to make what we want this country to be. And I’m willing to say it ain’t, but it should be. And there are a lot of people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and the only way we’re going to do it is come together as people.

 

Let me tell you a story, and then I’m going to sit down. Somebody said, well, how did you develop your persona? Well, not much different than most other people. I was 4 years old, living in a small black neighborhood in a small town called Lafayette, Louisiana. And a good friend in that little neighborhood, the only one who was a young Caucasian man, played, you know, softball, all kinds of things. And one day, about five of the men in the neighborhood was asked by me, what are they doing with all this raw lumber being placed in the side yard? He said, well, son, your best friend, only friend there who was Caucasian, is building a coffin for this young lady who was married to this fine young man. They have no money, so they want to build a coffin. I didn’t fully understand it then. I understand that now. And if we could come together with that thought in mind and cross lines, we are in a different era then we were in the ’40s and ’50s.

 

So today I’m asking you. I’m not asking you all to be teachers, but you are going to be a teacher wherever you are, and you’re going to have to be committed to that. We’re not yet. And the one thing that helped me understand it more, I happened to be under President Reagan’s — I'll call it Commission on Excellence in Education. But what it really came out to be was a Nation at Risk. And I think we heard that this morning. We are at risk, but we don’t have to be at risk. So I ask you, do something about it. Just don’t talk about it as we have.

 

I'm asking you the question. If it’s not you, I ask you who? If it’s not now, I ask you, when? And I ask you with the greatest hope in mind and the great spirit in mind, do something about education. Hire great teachers, believe that they can learn. Help them as they go, and if anything else, get the best advisers from elementary school to high school, to college. There are a lot of young people at the college level who don’t know what they want to be. And somebody isn’t telling them frankly what it’ll take, as you have done, to be what you can be, should be, and God gave you the right to do.

 

Thank you. Congratulations to all of you. God bless you.

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Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: 2019 Graduate School Commencement Charge and Benediction https://news.nd.edu/news/rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-2019-graduate-school-commencement-charge-and-benediction/ news_100423 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News Dean Carlson, Provost Burish, Doctor Takeuchi, family and friends, welcome and thank you for being here today as we celebrate the Graduate School class of 2019.    Graduates, you did it, and this is your day. But, while this accomplishment is truly your own, you know you didn’t do it all on your own. You may have done the studying, but your families and loved ones did the sweating and the stressing along with you. They cheered you on at your successes and cheered you up at your setbacks. They are sitting behind you today, and they have been behind you every step of the way to help you reach this milestone. So, to the mothers and fathers, siblings and spouses, friends and relatives: Thank you and congratulations. This day also belongs to you. Graduates, let’s applaud your families and loved ones who helped you in what you have achieved.…

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: 2019 Graduate School Commencement Charge and Benediction

Notre Dame News

Dean Carlson, Provost Burish, Doctor Takeuchi, family and friends, welcome and thank you for being here today as we celebrate the Graduate School class of 2019. 

 

Graduates, you did it, and this is your day. But, while this accomplishment is truly your own, you know you didn’t do it all on your own. You may have done the studying, but your families and loved ones did the sweating and the stressing along with you. They cheered you on at your successes and cheered you up at your setbacks. They are sitting behind you today, and they have been behind you every step of the way to help you reach this milestone. So, to the mothers and fathers, siblings and spouses, friends and relatives: Thank you and congratulations. This day also belongs to you. Graduates, let’s applaud your families and loved ones who helped you in what you have achieved.

 

This is a distinguished class, boasting many accolades and accomplishments in every field and every discipline.

 

Your degrees represent a major step forward in your own lives, as well as in the life of Notre Dame, as a university traditionally known for undergraduate education increasingly takes its place among the distinguished graduate programs in the world. This growth is due not only to our distinguished faculty and academic leaders, but also to the scholarly contributions you graduates have made and will make. We are proud to call you our graduates.  

 

Your degrees represent too what you, through your talent and hard work, have accomplished, and your promise for the future. They give you the right to expect much as you go out into the world; they also indicate that the world has a right to expect much from you.

 

What can the world expect? Certainly, the highest level of learning and skill in your chosen fields. But, because this is Notre Dame, we hope for more.

 

We hope you will use the advantages of the education you received here for the common good. We hope that you will use your talents and skills not simply to serve your own interests but to care for the neediest and create a more just society. We hope that you acquired here not only the knowledge to make a good living, but the wisdom to live a good life.

 

A critical part of living a good life is finding the way in which you are called to use your learning for a purpose beyond yourself. As Pope Francis has said, “We must not forget that true power, at whatever level, is service.” My hope for each of you is that you find and direct your learning and efforts to service.

 

Our speaker today is an excellent example. As we all can attest having heard her address, Dr. Takeuchi is a true leader, as she uses her gifts and talents to improve the lives of people around the world.

 

Dr. Takeuchi, I am honored to have you with us today. Thank you again for your inspiring comments and, most of all, for the power of your example. I’m extremely proud this weekend to make you an honorary alumna of Notre Dame.

 

Graduates, we congratulate you, we celebrate you and we wish you every success. Thank you for your presence here with us. We look forward to learning more of the great things you will do with what you have learned here at Notre Dame.

 

Let us bring our ceremony here to a conclusion with a brief prayer:

 

Of all the gifts you have bestowed on us, Lord,

 

None is greater than giving us intellects to seek truth, to learn and to understand your creation.

 

We thank you for these graduates who have labored so hard to learn and to understand.

 

We ask that you guide them to use what they have learned to go forth and heal, enlighten and unify a world deeply in need.

 

We pray this in your name. Amen.

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Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: Charge to Class of 2019 https://news.nd.edu/news/rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-charge-to-class-of-2019/ news_100448 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News We have recognized so many deserving people, but have not yet recognized a group who is perhaps most deserving. Graduates, you would not be here if it were not for the support, care, and love of your parents, guardians and families. They have many, many times cheered for you. We need to recognize them. So graduates, I ask you to turn and applaud those without whom you would not be here: your parents and families.…

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: Charge to Class of 2019

Notre Dame News

We have recognized so many deserving people, but have not yet recognized a group who is perhaps most deserving. Graduates, you would not be here if it were not for the support, care, and love of your parents, guardians and families. They have many, many times cheered for you. We need to recognize them. So graduates, I ask you to turn and applaud those without whom you would not be here: your parents and families.

 

After much ceremony and many speeches, I have little more to add by way of a charge, but this: Take what you have learned here at Notre Dame and let it enable you to go forth and do good. Always be as generous as you can with your time, talent and all you have. In your family life, your professional life and your spiritual life, every day of your life, never forget that your charge as Notre Dame graduates is to be a force for good in the world.

 

Keep alive the friendships you formed here, for they will provide joy, strength and comfort in years ahead. They will be among the great treasures of your life.

 

One of my true joys as President is to meet alumni of Notre Dame all around the world and hear of their remarkable accomplishments and of their dedicated service. There will, I am sure, be successes and accomplishments for each of you in your future. I look forward today, when I will meet you and feel proud that you are a graduate of Notre Dame.

 

I am also sure that there will be challenges, frustrations, disappointments, and detours in your lives. Always know that you are in our prayers here, and wherever you go, and whatever happens in your life, you will always have a home at Notre Dame to renew your heart and refresh your spirit.


God bless you all.

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Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: Introduction of Peggy Noonan https://news.nd.edu/news/rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-introduction-of-peggy-noonan/ news_100463 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News After the contentious presidential election of 2016, the selection committee of the Pulitzer Prize found in our commencement speaker a distinguished writer of commentary. In the precise language of the committee, Peggy Noonan was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for — quote — “rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns.” Unquote.…

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: Introduction of Peggy Noonan

Notre Dame News

After the contentious presidential election of 2016, the selection committee of the Pulitzer Prize found in our commencement speaker a distinguished writer of commentary.

In the precise language of the committee, Peggy Noonan was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for — quote — “rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns.” Unquote.

Fully capable of rapier wit and wisdom in the dismantling of a worthy opponent, Ms. Noonan nonetheless never resorts to the vulgarity or character assassination that too often passes for legitimate criticism these days.

She remains patriotic, without being chauvinistic. She believes in common decency, but is not naive. She is a critic who seeks common ground.

Born in Brooklyn to an Irish Catholic family, the daughter of a merchant seaman, Peggy Noonan sounds as if she attended Notre Dame, but graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson instead. She began her career in radio news in Boston, and in writing commentary for Dan Rather in his CBS radio broadcasts.  Her national acclaim as a writer exploded when it was learned she was responsible for much of President Reagan's soaring rhetoric and President George H.W. Bush’s most memorable lines.

The author of nine books and must-read columnist each weekend in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Noonan writes with unmistakable verve, an engaged mind and open heart.

She recently wrote, “Even honest love of country isn’t allowed to hold us together anymore. America to my mind is what Pope Francis says the Church was,” Peggy Noonan said, “a field hospital after battle. We are a beautiful and great nation but a needy, torn-up one in need of repair.” Ms. Noonan’s voice provides critical assistance in that badly needed repair. 

Please join me in welcoming to the podium to speak for herself, the University of Notre Dame’s 174th commencement speaker…Peggy Noonan.

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Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: 2019 Commencement Mass Homily https://news.nd.edu/news/rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-2019-commencement-mass-homily/ news_100464 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News University of Notre Dame Commencement Mass Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center May 18, 2019 Tomorrow’s commencement, at which I will award you graduates your degrees, will not be the first Notre Dame commencement of the spring of 2019, nor will you be the first in your class to receive your degree. The first occurred a week ago Friday in a hospital room in town, where I, accompanied by our provost, Tom Burish; the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Sarah Mustillo; and our vice president for student affairs, Erin Hoffman Harding, conferred a degree on Chris Westdyk, a classmate of you seniors. You see, Chris has been struggling with cancer. His health had deteriorated, and it was unlikely that he would be able to join you at tomorrow’s ceremony. He became, then, the first Notre Dame graduate of 2019.…

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: 2019 Commencement Mass Homily

Notre Dame News

University of Notre Dame
Commencement Mass
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center
May 18, 2019

Tomorrow’s commencement, at which I will award you graduates your degrees, will not be the first Notre Dame commencement of the spring of 2019, nor will you be the first in your class to receive your degree. The first occurred a week ago Friday in a hospital room in town, where I, accompanied by our provost, Tom Burish; the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Sarah Mustillo; and our vice president for student affairs, Erin Hoffman Harding, conferred a degree on Chris Westdyk, a classmate of you seniors. You see, Chris has been struggling with cancer. His health had deteriorated, and it was unlikely that he would be able to join you at tomorrow’s ceremony. He became, then, the first Notre Dame graduate of 2019.

Chris had been struggling with cancer since his junior year in high school, but he generally kept that struggle to himself. He was selected as an RA for Stanford Hall for his senior year and his rector, Justin McDevitt, encouraged him to share that struggle with his fellow students on the hall staff. He did, and Chris and his family were moved by the care and support he received. Through all the ups and downs of succeeding months, his friends and colleagues stuck with him, supported him and encouraged him.

Last week, on a sunny Friday afternoon at the end of finals week, that group of friends, along with Chris and his parents, crowded into the small hospital room with us for a simple commencement ceremony. That scene was for me a particularly poignant expression of what we strive to be at Notre Dame: a community that cares for one another in good times and in bad.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gathers with his disciples for the last time before his death. He will be with them only “a little while longer,” he says, and he wants to tell the kind of life he wants them to live and the kind of community he wants them to form. “I give you a new commandment,” he says. “Love one another as I have loved you. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I don’t need to tell you that the word love has taken on meanings that are far from what Jesus was talking about. It can denote a certain sentimentality, or infatuation, or romantic attachment or erotic desire. Jesus’s meaning is captured by the example of his life — a life that gave itself completely to others, even unto death. That kind of love was palpable in Chris Westdyk’s hospital room last Friday as he and his Stanford Hall friends and colleagues gathered for the conferral of his degree. It was the Notre Dame community at its best.

On this Commencement weekend, graduates, we not only celebrate your accomplishments, but we reflect on the hope we have for you as you go forth from this place. You have worked hard, certainly, and your professors and many others have worked hard to teach you. You have acquired skills that we expect will be put to good use in the professions to which you will be called, whether business or teaching, medicine or law, engineering or architecture. By applying the knowledge and skills you have acquired, you will make the world better.

We here at Notre Dame, however, have an even more ambitious hope for you. We hope you will be people who will respond to Christ’s command to love in the circumstances of your lives. We hope that what marks you as a graduate of Notre Dame is not simply the superlative knowledge and skills you apply in your profession — as important as these are — but the quality of the love you show.

This past week we mourned the passing of Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities and one of the great spiritual figures of our time. Vanier, born to Canadian parents, began his professional career in the British and then the Canadian navies. He then felt a spiritual calling to do “something else,” and went to get a doctorate in philosophy and, upon receiving his degree, took a faculty position at St. Michael’s College in Toronto.

In 1964, through a friend who was a priest, he became aware of the plight of developmentally disabled people consigned to living in institutions. Vanier invited two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to live with him so that he could care for them. He discovered, however, that these men had as much to offer him as he had to offer them. He came to see that the calling was not so much to provide care for these men, but to form with them a community in which each person could share her or his gifts. Vanier went on to inspire such communities, which he called L’Arche communities, around the world.  

Graduates of the class of 2019, I know you have the talent and training to do great things across a range of professions. I am confident that you, with the discipline and hard work you have shown here, will have success. I hope, though, that into each of your lives will enter people like Chris Westdyk, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux. For these encounters will call you not simply to use your knowledge and skill to solve some problem within your area of competence, but also to show the kind of love that Jesus speaks about in today’s Gospel reading. If that happens, then the encounter will not give you simply a disease to cure, a lesson to be taught, a legal case to be argued, or a community problem to be solved. It will invite you to be part of a community of love in which you give and receive gifts.

Graduates, let your hearts be open to give and receive that kind of love.

Make no mistake, though, if you open your hearts to that kind of love, they will be broken from time to time, just as the hearts of those gathered in Chris Westdyk’s hospital room were broken to see him struggle with his illness.

A powerful image of the heartache born of love is Ivan Mestrovic’s sculpture in our Basilica. It depicts Mary, Our Lady, receiving in her arms the lifeless body of her son who had just been taken from the cross. To open your hearts to love is to open your hearts to that kind of heartache. When you experience those moments of heartache in your life, always remember you graduated from a university named after Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows.

If, however, you do live a life open to such love, you will experience something else — you will know joy. “I tell you these things,” Jesus says to the disciples in the same speech in John’s Gospel, “that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). We all seek success and happiness, and these are worthwhile goals, but the joy that arises from a life of love is more enduring, deep and precious than anything personal success or self-satisfied happiness can offer. Find a way to give yourself in love to others — family, friends, patients, colleagues or even strangers — and you will know a joy that can change you and those around you.

As Jean Vanier said, “When we begin to believe that there is greater joy in working with and for others, rather than just for ourselves, then our society will truly become a place of celebration.”

Graduates of 2019, we wish you health, happiness, success and all good things. Most of all, though, we wish you the joy that comes from responding to Christ’s call to love. May God guide you in your quest to live this love.

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Peggy Noonan: 2019 Commencement Address https://news.nd.edu/news/peggy-noonan-2019-commencement-address/ news_100477 2019-05-19T14:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News Good morning all, Father Jenkins, Board of Trustees, esteemed faculty, students, distinguished fellow honorees. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. Father, I must say I found the tribute you just read to be almost embarrassingly flattering, but that's because I wrote it. So I guess factor that in. Normally I just say I don't deserve those kind words, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either. So what the heck?…

Peggy Noonan: 2019 Commencement Address

Notre Dame News

Good morning all, Father Jenkins, Board of Trustees, esteemed faculty, students, distinguished fellow honorees. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. Father, I must say I found the tribute you just read to be almost embarrassingly flattering, but that's because I wrote it. So I guess factor that in. Normally I just say I don't deserve those kind words, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either. So what the heck?

 

I want you to know, Father John, I count it as a great compliment of my life that you said I sound like I went to Notre Dame. This makes me want to go to old Finney’s and have a Natty Light. Let’s all meet there. We’ll get through this. We’ll meet there.

 

I must begin. I note, a remarkable thing to begin with, this great institution is 177 years old, which of course makes it younger than some of this year’s presidential candidates. But in all those years, it has never quite happened in an utterly formal sense that the class valedictorian, salutatorian and commencement speaker were all women.

 

Now, this reminds me of a story. A few years ago, a boy came home from grade school and told his father that he was second in his class and that a girl had won top place. So his father started to tease him and he said, “Surely, Tommy, you’re not going to be beaten by a mere girl.” And Tommy said, “You know, Dad, girls aren’t nearly as mere as they used to be.”

 

So it is a delight to be with these strong, smart women who are not at all mere, with Annalise and Sofia, and who along with Notre Dame’s strong, smart men make this University the great thing that it is.

 

And so I am honored to address the great and fabled class of 2019. This is your day. We honor not only you, the graduates, but your parents, your families and all the overflow rooms, your friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles, everyone who made the triumph of a Notre Dame degree possible. Nothing happens alone, or no great personal achievement does. So all honor to whatever little platoon helped you land on this shore.

 

I mean to be brief today. I’m going to try to be at least as interesting as the redacted Mueller report.

 

I do not wish to take part in any campus controversies, though I note that under our gowns, many of us up here are wearing leggings. Even Father Jenkins.

 

But I must say there is a tenderness to the sight of all of you today. It’s a corny thing to say, but I want to say it. When people show unhidden joy in their accomplishments and good fortune and blessings, witnessing it feels almost intimate, and that is why all graduations, for all the pomp and ceremony and brass bands, all of them are so personally moving every year. I remember Bobby Kennedy saying — of another bright class at another time — he said in a commencement address, “You’re about to enter the great world with all its splendor, but all its challenges and hardships and tests also,” and he said, “and so my advice to you is don’t go. Stay here. It’s nice here.”

 

I found I too have only one piece of advice for you, and it is for when you yourselves, if you choose, and if you are blessed, become parents. That advice is: Never put a child wearing Superman pajamas on the top bunk. Just don’t do it. Nothing good will happen. You’ll thank me one day.

 

Now, you are well used to great praise for this great school. I join it. You are a great private institution and a great Catholic university. You have a mighty endowment, access to the best, a rich field of scholars and thinkers. You are an intellectual powerhouse, but it is also true that Notre Dame occupies a very special piece of terrain in the American psyche. If you are perhaps of a certain age, certainly Irish Catholic, Notre Dame lives in your head whether you’ve ever been here or not. It is now and always, as you know, Knute Rockne. It is the soundtrack from “Rudy,” that rousing music when they carry him on their shoulders off the field. Notre Dame is Touchdown Jesus, the Hail Mary Pass, the Fighting Irish, the Four Horsemen, the Golden Dome. It is Ted Hesburgh. It is what we have been as Americans, how we’ve seen ourselves and wish still to be heroes living and working together.

 

Now, if you worked for Ronald Reagan, as I did, of course you think of George Gipp, whom Reagan played in “Knute Rockne, All American.” Now Reagan’s attachment to this University, as you well know, was such that it was the first school he visited after he’d been shot in March of 1981, but he’d made a commitment to speak at graduation and he kept it, marking what he called the first time he ever turned in a college assignment on time. You gave him an honorary degree. He said he always thought the first one was honorary. But on that day, May 17, 1981, Notre Dame having a sophisticated sense of what he had been through — it had been worse than had been said by the White House. You knew it. Having had a sophisticated sense of what he’d been through, Notre Dame wore its heart on its sleeve, greeting him with a standing ovation and great spontaneous cheers. Now the president that day said a university like this is a storehouse of knowledge, mostly because the freshmen bring so much in and the seniors take so little away.

 

He said the thing that had interested him most when he was a young man about the story of George Gipp is the fact that the students, the team had never known Gipp. He’d been a few years older than all of them. They didn’t know his story until coach Rockne told it to them in the locker room on that terrible day when they were losing so bad. Now they were a fractious team. Reagan said apparently they didn’t get along, but they went back onto the field and turn the game around, not out of affection for Gipp, whom, again, they hadn’t known, but out of loyalty to the idea of having a heart of hanging together, working together, coming through out of loyalty to the idea of loyalty itself. Reagan that day touched on the great themes of 20th-century conservatism. Man in the state.

 

He raised high the individual, but he also said these words: “Government has certain legitimate functions which it can perform very well. It can be responsive to the people, it can be humane and compassionate, but when it tries to do things that are not its proper province, it will not do them so well. It has a tendency to fail there.” He wasn’t saying find the balance. He was saying, use your discernment, use your judgment. And he was speaking not in a partisan way, but to both parties. So today I want to speak briefly about that phrase, proper province. Reagan respected reality. The spirit of Reaganism was in line with the real need of the era. The economy was stagnant with double-digit inflation and unemployment a mess. He knew the America of his time was in need of being unleashed, of rising, of throwing off unhelpful barriers so the country would flourish.

 

That was the urgent need now to me, and that its best conservatism, which of course is one of America’s two great political tendencies. But conservatism is not a reaction, but a reminder from a wise old friend. It is not the antidote to progressivism. It is not the antidote to anything. It is its own vivid and particular mood, or attitude. It is an attempted wisdom, grounded in knowledge of human history and human nature. It lacks the shine of newness, but perhaps that’s because it has withstood the test of time. Its weathered look is testament to its enduring power. Edmund Burke spoke of an unseen compact between the living, the dead and the unborn. Margaret Thatcher was less poetic. She said the facts of life are conservative. Conservatives are always still trying to define conservatism, which suggests it is a lively thing. Dynamic, still changing, finding new expressions and new eras.

 

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker has just written a good book about what he calls the moral adventure of liberalism. And that’s good. I think he is in part trying to free liberalism from a feeling of mere ideology. He says liberalism finds its best expression in a thousand small sanities. So I asked, how does conservatism find its best expression now in the 21st century? What are its small sanities? I happened to see wisdom in the words of Oscar Hammerstein, the great Broadway lyricist, asked in a TV interview 60 years ago by Mike Wallace if Eastern media folk weren’t mostly are all liberal. Hammerstein wasn’t defensive at all. He said, “Yes, we are.” He said, “Yes, I am.” And yes, he said, this affects the world, the view of the world that Americans are given, but he figured liberals need conservatives to hold them back and conservatives need liberals to pull them forward and on in our history.

 

I think that’s been kind of pretty true. Now, there are many conservatives right now who looking down the road to future presidential cycles, two moments beyond this one who longed to return to the 20th-century arguments for smaller government and spending, and I understand you don’t want government bigger than it has to be. You always want taxes lower rather than higher. You don’t want to dishearten people in an age of deficits. You want to keep your eye on spending. But I believe that limited style of conservatism, while very right for its time, is not now enough in and of itself because it is not fully in line with the crises of this moment or of its reigning facts. I believe the need now is not so much for unleashing as undergirding, steadying, strengthening, supporting so that America can flourish.

 

The federal government will not likely become smaller and less expensive in our lifetimes. There’s almost no political will for it in Congress. They privately admit this or within the parties where they'll privately admitted. What we have now for the foreseeable future is two parties of large government. One leaning a little this way on the issues, the other that, and to me now the important question is what that government does. I believe America needs help right now and America knows it. The reasons are so obvious that we’ve almost stopped saying them. But we’ve been living through an ongoing cultural catastrophe for the last 30 years. You know all the words that I will say now — illegitimacy, the decline of faith, low family formation, child abuse and neglect, drugs, poor education. But all of that exists alongside of and is made worse by an entertainment culture from which the poor and neglected are unprotected and which is devoted to violence and knee Elysium.

 

Politically as a people, we are constantly bitterly pitted against each other along racial, religious and many other lines. Culturally we are force-fed a picture of America as an ugly, racist, misogynist nation. Fruit of the poison tree, as somebody said, so even honest love of country isn’t allowed to hold us together so much anymore. I believe we’re losing, through all these things, some higher sense of ourselves. America right now has a strong economy, growth is solid, unemployment is way down. Employment is way up, thank God. But underneath that America is, as Father John quoted, a torn-up, wounded place in need of repair. Honestly I’m not fussy about where the repair comes from, what levels, what entities, and I don’t think the American people care either. I just think they want it to come soon.

 

Now all of this to my mind comes within a certain historical fact. You can’t see all the world’s weapons, all its mischief. Its malice. Its accidents, too, and not knowing that someday we as a country will face a bad day or a series of bad days. Everything will depend on our ability to hold together and hold fast. A strong people will make their way through it together and to the other side. But with so much tearing us apart now, will we have that sense of cohesion and solidarity? This is often on my mind. So my belief is that whatever holds us together now, whatever makes us stronger, brings us together, binds us close right now is good and necessary and must be encouraged with whatever it takes. Conservatives pride themselves on being earthbound and that’s nice. They respect gravity. But I would say they haven’t asked, but I would say they should step up.

 

Just step up a few steps higher, change their vantage point. See this country more clearly. Don’t be battling right now to make government smaller. Don’t be talking about that, but I mean don’t make believe that’s what you’re doing. Don’t make believe you’re doing that instead. Make government more helpful, more pertinent to all of the urgencies around us. Shift focus, direct government toward conservative ones. Focus on conserving things we are hearing now and listening to those running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Um, they would, most of them come forward and say they would shift things more towards progressive ends and they will talk about it and they have many interesting thoughts on global climate change. Medicare for all, reparations debates and such. Fine. Let those debates commence and continue. But what would a government aimed at conservative events look like? I can’t say because we can’t go too long in a commencement address, but these are just a few things that my mind went to.

 

First of all, whatever might help families form, grow and endure, whatever will help, do it. Make it a matter of national policy. America is in a severe, and each year growing, mental health crisis. Let’s try to solve it. Help give families what they need. They don’t have enough recourse now when somebody inside the family is turning sick. My goodness, teaching the lost boys of the working and middle class how to live, the infrastructure bills floating around Washington are good in themselves to me, uh, because we need better bridges, tunnels and roads and because we need the pride as a nation that comes from making them better. Like Eisenhower’s building of the U.S. highway system in the 1950s, a spirit of “we can still do that.” But I am most for infrastructure because it could provide a great national setting for breakthrough mentorship in which men teach boys how to do something. I swear they should go out and recruit in the most difficult and detached neighborhoods and towns, dragging teenage boys out of the house integrating them into a world of dynamism and competence.

 

Couldn’t we work a little bit harder on helping our immigrants become Americans? However the illegal immigration crisis is resolved or not resolved, there are tens of millions of immigrants, legal and illegal, already here. Who helps them love America? Who can teach them lovingly our history and what it means to be part of this great project called America? It is a tragedy of the past 15 years in immigration debates that we've lost sight of a central fact that has everything to do with our future. We, America, we have the best immigrants in the world. Let’s just try to help them a little bit more. Thank you.

 

Only two more.

 

What can be done to focus more on threats to religious freedom? They are real and will get real. You know this. The polls are interesting. They say Americans are not always breaking down the doors to go to church, but they respect religious life. They intuitively understand the crucial nature of religious institutions, and they don’t want to see them under siege. They don’t want long-held religious beliefs compromised or trampled by the state. I feel I’ve known America a long time. Deep down it actually respects you when the dogma lives loudly within you.

 

That was my shout-out to Amy Barrett. Thank you. Thank you, Amy.

 

You know, just for fun, break up big tech. You know all the reasons. Deliberate abuse of privacy, deliberately addicting people, monopoly. They turned a convenience into a utility. Fine. Regulate it. At this point, do it to prove we are not passive observers of the corruption of our society, but active combatants against it. We would be showing, as in the highways and I hope in the infrastructure, we can still do something big and together as a people.

 

So there's many more points. I mean, you could all do your 10-point system if you wanted to because you live in America and look at it every day and you know what's not working. But to me, really the point of conservatism is to conserve. It is to protect and strengthen, to focus on ends, not abstract and notional, but immediate and concrete. Everyone in politics always want to go through the old motions because everyone in politics wants to be safe. They figure what worked in the past will work in the future. But challenges change, eras change. It does no good to repeat old mantras, especially when you don't even mean to enact them.

 

So be far-sighted, I would say to my friends. See America’s real state and real plight. If a government will be a large, it will need sober-minded stewards. If a government will be large, it will require protecting the system that made our wealth and allowed us to be generous with the world and with ourselves. And that is free-market capitalism. Conservatives especially don’t just accept that system. They actually love it, and you fight hard for what you love.

 

And so let me add only one more thing from the writer and thinker Yuval Levin. He said conservatives have to stop hating our institutions. A conservatism that despises it society's institutions is self-destructive. He is exactly right. In our political life, both sides have big sins. But you cannot hate and denigrate government, the press, the courts, our institutions and claim that the same time that you are trying to be constructive. You are not. You cannot hate the other side and claim you are trying to help. You are not. Fight failures, fight oversteps, fight arrogance and high-handedness. But we must do it in a spirit of repair. The secret of successful politics: Be moved more by what you love than what you hate.

 

And so I am done. But I would say all of this is a matter of proper province. All of this to me is being loyal to the team. All this to me is being loyal to the idea of loyalty itself.

 

And so I thank you. It has been an honor to be here on this great day, May 19, 2019, in South Bend, Indiana, at the University of Notre Dame in the house that Rockne built, and Ted Hesburgh too. May God bless you and keep you, the class of 2019. Thank you.

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