Graduation 2019: the certitude of faith

8 June 2019 Commencement Ceremony

As the academic procession from the parish church to the Schloss and Riley Hall wound its way solemnly through Trumau, the bright sun in the perfect blue sky shining brightly on the graduates, their fellow students, their professors, their families and their friends - one thought was probably on everybody’s mind: I am at the right place here. In her speech as elected 2019 Class Speaker, Rachel Johnson highlighted this for students and graduates as she focused her reflections on exactly this thought: we are all meant to be here!

24 students from various countries received their diplomas from the hands of our Grand Chancellor Cardinal Dr. Christoph Schönborn and Rector Christiaan Alting von Geusau. It was a specific privilege for all assembled in the Riley Hall (where every seat was taken) that Cardinal Schönborn was present, still recovering from a major medical intervention in May and after which the graduation ceremony in Trumau was his first public appearance. After all graduates, at the invitation of the Academic Dean Dr. Bernhard Dolna, publicly spoke their Profession of Faith, the Grand Chancellor presented graduates with their official diplomas and certificates: Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Master in Sacred Theology, Master in Marriage and Family Studies and Studium Generale.

Cardinal Schönborn then took to the stage and gave an impromptu and deeply moving testimony of faith where he shared with his audience how nothing is as certain as faith. God is truth and he cannot be untruthful to us, even if we will not always have answers to all our questions in life and even if our faith is shaken – every act of faith brings us in direct contact with God himself. Therefore, faith brings certitude.

The Rector of the ITI, in his traditional Commencement Address reminded graduates “As you step out of the Schloss today and make your way into the world never forget that what counts is not what you do, but who you are.” He went on to explain that as a Christian “baptized and open to the movements of the Holy Spirit, you are not called to be successful, but called to be faithful, as Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta taught us. True, lasting and inspiring success comes only when we are faithful to Christ, and to the unique calling he has given us.”

Dr. Alting von Geusau went on to call on graduates to go out and confront the destructive ideologies of our times that our destroying more lives than at any time in history; abortion, broken families, sexual materialism and the persecution and discrimination of Christians around the world. In his words:

You are called to educate, to educate, and to educate – with an authenticity deeply rooted in a life in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ. Hence: faithfulness. In the words of Pope Francis:

“Education cannot be neutral … either it enriches or it impoverishes.”

So you are called to go out and to educate, first by your example and only then by your words. And this education is needed on all levels of society, and in all professions – everywhere.

Let me close with our founder’s Saint John Paul II’s famous words: „As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.“


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