St. Scholastica Graduation

Senator Becky Lourey
College of St. Scholastica
Fall Baccalaureate Commencement
Reif Gymnasium

December 18, 2004 - Noon


It is a tremendous honor to be here with you today. Commencement is truly a beginning. One could think of this moment as the completion of your work, the attainment of your degree, the last step in your intense, exhausting dedication and pursuit of knowledge. But it isn't - it is a commencement because you have completed your preparation for a new chapter in your lives.

And I get to share this moment with you! And I get to do it here, at the college you have chosen, the College of St. Scholastica whose guiding principles are based on the Benedictine Values.

Values I hope I am living by - the values of Community, Hospitality, Respect, Stewardship, and the Love of Learning.

Another reason I feel a close connection to this institution is its strong commitment to health care -- an area of St. Scholastica excellence.
Those of you who have chosen a career in health care will be meeting a huge future need.

As many of you know, health care is my greatest public policy passion. As the population of this region and the entire nation ages, we face ever-growing health care challenges. We can worry, wring our hands over the situation -- declare that it is out of control - but it is who and where we are, so we must devote our efforts to meeting the need and do so in ways that respect both the care giver and the receiver.

I know you feel passionately about the dreams you are pursuing. Your lives almost certainly will be much different after you leave here. Most likely, you will discover new and very different circumstances. You will face wonderful opportunities. But, in the hard times, you should remember the important principles instilled here at St. Scholastica -- acceptance and tolerance, the progressive Catholic tradition of seeking out peace and justice. In short, the moral compass so vitally important for a strong society.

And may you all find - wherever you are - a place to retreat as beautiful as this campus. A place of natural beauty and solitude like your Valley of Silence. I'm sure many of you have used this special place of quiet and solitude.
You will need a place where you can pull your wits around you as you face the challenges of life today, challenges you are already dealing with.

I grew up in the 1950s, was a young adult in the 60s, and you probably won't be surprised to learn that I really loved being involved in the social movements of the times -- racial equality, peace, and women's issues. Let me tell you about a man named Kevin Phillips who actually helped Richard Nixon get elected in 1968 -- a pretty conservative fellow in those times.

He isn't a typical conservative now, though.

Mr. Phillips sees our nation as a plutocracy. That means wealth and money have overpowered all that we do. We have a fusion of money and government not only taking control over both political parties, but the dynamics of our politics. It even controls our culture. This view comes from author Kevin Phillips, a man who hasn't abandoned his earlier convictions, but who feels our society is greatly endangered by how we have evolved over the past two or three decades.
Now, I hope that all of you graduating today will prosper financially in your future endeavors. That's one reason for a college education. But I also hope you will fight the temptation to pursue success by bowing to the plutocratic norm. It is a distant cry from those Benedictine Values: sharing responsibility to create and support community; hospitality that creates a welcoming atmosphere; respect that values the dignity of all work; stewardship that provides wise and respectful use of all material and monetary resources; and the love of learning that transmits the treasures of human culture to new generations.

The following verses were engraved on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, and are widely attributed to her. However, these verses actually were written by Kent Keith in a motivational booklet for high school counselors published while he was a 19-year old college student in 1968. There's that year again. Trust me, I'm not caught in a time warp.

For good reason, these words are quoted far more often today than they were in the late 1960s. They are known both as "Anyway" and as "The Paradoxical Commandments."

People are often unreasonable, illogical,
and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone
could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

I wish all these attributes upon each of you, as you set off on a new course to your future. We live in a challenging world, and it takes a great sense of commitment to hold onto the core values that bring us true happiness.
And whenever you need to, reflect back on all the good thoughts you are taking away from your years spent at the College of St. Scholastica.

Perhaps you'll think of the solitude in the Valley of Silence -- or whatever it was that made you happy there.

Your college Vision Statement includes a lofty goal for you as you reach out beyond this campus "committed to serve and to transform the world."

I wish you strength, happiness and true joy in this mission. Thank you for inviting me to share in your significant and inspiring achievement on the day you set forth from this time and place.