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Father Jonathan Bids Farewell to his 24th Graduating Class

May 18, 2013

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During Saint Anselm College's 120th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 18, commencement speaker Louis Freeh addressed 426 members of the class of 2013 as Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., presided over his final commencement as president.

As a surprise for the retiring president of 24 years, representatives of all 23 preceding classes joined the procession bearing their class year banners.

In his speech to the class of 2013, Father Jonathan recalled the determination of the college's founders and encouraged the graduates "to be proud Anselmians and to move on with confidence to form your future with the great gifts you have been given."

"You are heirs to the dreams of our founders; heirs to a century and a quarter of the hard work, unselfish sacrifice, and generosity of so many people."

And with his congratulations he said "although it is always a bit sad to bid farewell to another graduating class, you in particular will always have a special place in my heart."

Father Jonathan also recognized nearly a dozen Boston FBI and law enforcement officers including several alumni who attended today's ceremonies. Prior to commencement, he honored those special guests and thanked them for their service during the Boston Marathon bombing incident.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, addressing the graduates, recognized that 64 graduates of Saint Anselm College have served with the FBI and more than 1,000 graduates have gone into careers in law enforcement. He said, "This is a compliment to the college's Catholic values and American values."

"Your freedom, your liberty, and your safety is a gift that we all receive by living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. My core message to you is that you are our future, you are our hope, you are the ones who have to make sure we keep forming a more perfect union."

He continued by offering advice to help graduates pursue happiness. "You've got to give back or the union never advances and never becomes perfected."

He also impressed upon graduates the importance of always keeping their word and having moral courage.

Photos: Commencement 2013

Philosophy major Nathanael Chartier of Nashua, N.H., received the Chancellor's Award for the graduate with the highest academic average. Dr. Paul Finn, professor of psychology and 1973 graduate of Saint Anselm, received the award for excellence in faculty accomplishment. He was recognized for his distinguished teaching and for his work as a running coach and mentor.

Christopher Tinsley, a financial economics major from Sterling, Mass., also addressed graduates. He challenged his classmates, "Let's prove that Father Jonathan saved his best for last!"

"My graduation here today is very nearly the completion of a dream. My mother died suddenly when I was 3 years old. It had been her dream to see all seven of her boys receive a Catholic liberal arts education. Well Mom, after today, one more to go."

Tinsley emphasized the importance of role models touching on familiar figures such as Achilles, Moses, Socrates, and Adam Smith. He included, "George Gendron, the beloved custodian of Cushing Hall whose remarkable op optimistic attitude and generosity of spirit made studying slightly less strenuous."

Louis Freeh received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Saint Anselm College as did James T. Brett, president and CEO of The New England Council and Kerry A. Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.

Among the graduates were the first five nurses to complete the college's RN to BSN Program.

  • Speeches and Remarks: Christopher Tinsley, Elizabeth Ossoff, Father Jonathan's address, Louis Freeh's speech
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