Monsignor Sheeran’s statement is taken from the class of 2006’s Commencement Exercises on May 8, 2006. The class of 2006, Seton Hall’s 149th graduating class, included over 2,100 graduates. Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of
NBC Nightly News, presented the commencement address.
Today you write the last page of your Seton Hall story, in that book handed to you your first day on campus. It was a book of blank pages then. Now it is filled.
Today you complete that volume, written one page a day, over the years. And tomorrow you open another.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously remarked, speaking at a Harvard graduation some 168 years ago: "Character is higher than intellect."
I believe those seniors understood exactly what he meant then, and I am confident that you understand the meaning of his words today.
It is one thing to be learned, another to be virtuous.
It is good to be highly educated, better, though, to have character. And, of course, best to have both.
A degree does not guarantee character. It does not assure a life of virtue.
We all know that virtue and remarkable selflessness can be found in those who have little education. History also bears witness, at times, to those whose high levels of education, like Nazi physicians, lacked even a shred of moral decency.
Seton Hall's mission is to send out graduates both educated and good, both astute and virtuous.
As President, I charge you, the Class of 2006, to marry character with intellect, meld a good, generous heart with a well-trained, sophisticated mind.
We hold the greatest expectations of you, And rightly so. Your education, your up bringing has been purchased at a great price. Look around you and see all the love and selflessness of others that has brought you to this Commencement. Remember: a life lived for others is the only life that matters.
Now your Seton Hall stories come to an end, stories rich in encounters and experiences of mind, heart and spirit that will continue to shape your destinies and direct your course — for years to come.
Today, I charge you all:
Go and write your great stories. Stories that reflect your intellect and skill, that tell of your good character and commitment to be servant leaders, trustworthy stewards of the education and formation you've been given, and have earned. May Alma Mater always be as proud of you as she is today.
And whatever page of your story you write tomorrow...
Wherever the remarkable odyssey of this life takes you...
Know that Seton Hall is with you and for you.
God bless and God speed.