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Convocation Launches 125th Anniversary Celebration

September 26, 2014

Laurie Morrissey
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

The Saint Anselm College community gathered on Friday, September 26, to officially mark the beginning of this historic year, the 125th anniversary of the college's founding.

Father Mark S. Massa, S.J.It was an occasion of academic pageantry as the faculty, monastic community, staff, students, trustees, and other guests filled the Abbey Church to reflect on the college's history and hear Father Mark S. Massa, S.J., Dean and Professor of Church History at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, discuss Catholic higher education and the intellectual life.

Fr. Cecil J. Donahue, O.S.B. '50, pronounced the invocation. Br. Isaac Murphy, O.S.B., interim vice president for academic affairs, outlined the college's early history, including the story of the tragic fire that delayed the opening of the college. He noted the special presence of the third, fourth, and fifth abbots of Saint Anselm Abbey: Bishop Joseph Gerry, O.S.B., Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B., and the Abbot Mark Cooper, O.S.B.

Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo, the college's 10th and current president, said in his remarks, "As we move forward with faith in what we may accomplish in our next 125 years, Saint Anselm is blessed to have extremely dedicated faculty and staff who focus on the burning question posed each and every day 'Are we doing our best to serve our students?'  We stand strong as a community bound by our traditions yet poised to march forward with great enthusiasm."

Fr. Mark Massa, S.J., is the author of seven books, including Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team, which won the AJCU/Alpha Sigma Nu Award for Outstanding Work in Theology for 1999-2000.

In his lecture, he reflected on the strides that Catholic higher education-and Saint Anselm College-has taken to encourage critical and creative thinking and to develop in students a commitment to lifelong learning. He congratulated the college on its new core curriculum, which will "make it all the more likely that your students will leave here with an excellent education in harmony with the ability to 'listen with the ear of the heart.'"

The occasion concluded with the college choir singing the Saint Anselm College Anthem, with the direction of Fr. Bede Camera, O.S.B.

Additional Resources

The President's Blog: All Colleges Grow From Small Beginnings
Excerpts of Dr. DiSalvo's Convocation Remarks

Brother Isaac's Blog: Three Voices from the Early Years of Saint Anselm College
Full text of Brother Isaac's Convocation Remarks

125th Anniversary Web Site: Convocation Launches 125th Anniversary Celebration
Compilation of Speeches and video of Abbot Mark's Closing Blessing

From the Archives: The Voice of Frank Amberg

One of the significant characters in the history of Saint Anselm's was a monk of St. Mary's Abbey in New Jersey, by the name of Father Vincent Amberg. He was the prior at their monastery in Delbarton for many years. But before 1927 he was actually prior here at Saint Anselm's before this house became an independent abbey. But even before he was a superior here, he taught here, and before that he studied theology here as a young cleric. But even before that, before he was in vows, he came to Saint Anselm's as a 15 year old boy, one Frank Amberg from Newark, New Jersey. He was in fact a member of the first class that entered in the Fall of 1893.

In an interview later in life he described the day in an audio recording that had (presumably) not been heard in public until Friday's Academic Convocation:

"We went to Manchester. Well that was about September the 5th, 1893. I have it clearly in mind that, it was Monday I know and I think it was Labor Day. So we got up there and I remember we marched into the new building and if I wasn't the first one to move in, I was not far behind the leader, and we walked right into the new building there. Fr. Hugo Paff, he met us and welcomed us as the first entries into Saint Anselm's College."

Because Father Vincent transferred back to New Jersey and because of his important leadership role at Delbarton, he is not often remembered as a prominent figure at Saint Anselm College in its very early years. However, in 1953 Saint Anselm's clearly recognized his key role by granting him an honorary degree, a Doctor of Divinity. He lived to the ripe old age of 87 years, and even after his retirement he remembered his early years at Saint Anselm's fondly. Five years before he died in 1965, he sat down and was interviewed by one of the monks at Delbarton, Father Giles Hayes (later Abbot Giles). The interview was extensive, not only about his time at Delbarton but also the early years at Saint Anselm's.

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