Hundreds Gather at Saint Joseph's College of Maine Baccalaureate Mass
STANDISH---“Congratulations! It means ‘well done,’ ‘compliments on your achievement,’ and ‘you’ve done it!’ And you have! You have worked hard and earned the degree which will be awarded. This is a great achievement.”
The words of Bishop Robert Deeley were met with smiles of anticipation and accomplishment by the soon-to-be graduates before him as he celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass on Friday morning, officially kicking off Commencement Weekend at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish (picture gallery below).
Hundreds gathered for the celebration, which was held outdoors and under a large tent constructed at the campus for the weekend’s festivities. Students and faculty wore robes and marched in a procession at the start of the Mass, which was a beautiful gathering that offered thanks for the blessings God has bestowed upon the graduates and their families and friends, many of whom were in attendance.
Bishop Deeley told the Class of 2023 that this joyful weekend is also a celebration of what Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is all about: academic achievement at the service of the common good grounded in appreciation of God’s goodness to us.
“Mindful of that spiritual environment within which you have received your education rooted, as it is, in the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel, we come this morning to pause ahead of the celebration of the academic achievements of tomorrow and we take this opportunity to be grateful for the gifts received,” the bishop said during his homily. “In this celebration of the Mass, we give thanks to God for the good that has been accomplished in the many classes, papers, projects, and activities you have undertaken which happily now result in the degrees that will be awarded. And, as we look back in gratitude, we look forward in our prayer this morning in hope. We ask God to continue to guide and assist you as you move forward in life.”
The bishop told the students that as they prepare to move forward, they should be mindful of the words of Jesus in the Gospel.
“The (words) remind us of God’s care for us. ‘Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?’ As you move forward, always remember, God is with you.”
Bishop Deeley also told the graduates to remember that we thrive, not as individuals, but in community.
“Friendship, community, the kind of activity we are doing together this morning, the kind of gathering we find in Church, is good for us,” he said. “So, part of what you have learned here at Saint Joseph’s is the fact that we do better when we do things together in community. We make the biggest difference in our world when we work to make life better for those around us. We are called to build a community which becomes a light to the world, showing a way to live in accord with the Gospel message preached by Jesus. His invitation to ‘Follow me’ is not just a charge to apostles and disciples. It is a call to all of us who find the meaning of life in the message of Jesus and in his commandment to love God and love one another.”
Friday’s Mass was concelebrated by Monsignor Marc Caron, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Portland, and Fr. Louis Phillips, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Windham.
On Saturday, close to 500 students will receive master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degrees from the college during its 110th Commencement, which will also be livestreamed here.
As part of the Mass, the bishop sprinkled the graduates with holy water as a reminder of baptism and an expression of goodness for all present.
“May the Lord guide us to build communities which care for each other wherever we find ourselves. We do this for our own health and the health of those with whom we share the world,” the bishop told those gathered on Friday. “Do good with what you have earned.”
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine was founded in 1912, originally based on the grounds of the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse in Portland and moved to the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish in 1956. The college’s undergraduate, graduate, and lifelong learning programs transform people of all faiths and ages into 21st Century leaders with the purpose and skills to sustain their communities. Rooted in the teachings of Jesus and the doctrines of the Catholic Church and the Sisters of Mercy, the values of Saint Joseph’s College are the foundation of its educational mission: faith, excellence, integrity, respect, compassion, justice, and community.