Thirty-nine young people from all over the world have successfully completed the academic requirements of ITI Catholic University to earn Studium Generale certificates and academic diplomas for the Bachelor of Liberal Arts, Master of Sacred Theology, Master of Studies on Marriage and the Family, Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and Master of Arts in Theological Orient and Occident Studies degrees on June 24.
The feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist added special meaning to this year’s ITI Commencement Ceremony. “Today’s solemnity fits well with the occasion of graduation for all who have finished their studies, as well as those who have completed another year of their program. John the Baptist is an example for the Church who brings Christ to the people and the people to Christ. He is also an excellent example for all who want help others discover Jesus Christ and, through Him, the God from whom we all came and who is our goal,” His Excellency Klaus Küng, Bishop emeritus of St. Pölten and Feldkirch, preached. Bishop Küng is an old friend and supporter of the ITI from the beginning of its existence, and he has always considered the ITI a beacon of hope for Church and society. His expression of gratitude towards the ITI for offering its students a solid and integral formation imbued with the charity fostered by common life on campus encourages us to proceed confidently with our mission.
Prepare the Way for the Coming of the Messiah
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5
STM Graduate and Class Speaker Ms. Catherine Mershon also emphasized that it was providential to celebrate the completion of studies at the ITI on the feast day of Saint John the Forerunner. Drawing a parallel between the mission of St. John—who was chosen before all time to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah—Catherine exhorted her fellow graduates, saying: “Graduates! Today is the day that we are born! At matriculation God specifically placed us in the womb of our alma mater, and now we emerge as fully formed infants. Like John who after nine months of being nurtured and formed in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, we have been shaped and nurtured in the loving womb of the ITI. It is here that we have encountered Christ and been sanctified, and we too have leapt for joy, during Pascha in the Byzantine chapel, during dances in Riley Hall, during conversations in class and creek jumps in the summer heat. It is here that we have grown up, become better thinkers and better Christians.”
She invited graduates to follow the example of St. John the Baptist by entering into the world to prepare the way for the Lord. She expressed her desire that she and her fellow graduates would strive to do their utmost in every capacity, no matter what it is they do. All of us, she says, should “follow St. Therese’s little way and be concerned only with doing all things, whether grand and marvelous adventures or small menial tasks, with great, great love.”
Build Families, Educate the Youth, and Engage into Politics
He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6
Prof. Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau delivered his last Commencement Address as President and Rector of the ITI before he will retire from his duties on July 31. He presented his Farewell Call to Action entitled How to Reclaim Dignity and Freedom Today? “In today’s world,” the Rector stated, “human dignity and freedom are under threat. … Freedom and dignity do not get lost all at once overnight, but rather through incremental, step-by-step processes of small compromises that in themselves appear harmless and even justified, but taken together prove fatal.”
Therefore, in sending our graduates out into the world, Dr. Geusau proposed that they focus on three priorities that he says Christians have a moral obligation to act upon. These three priorities that may not be compromised are family, education, and politics. The Rector called on the graduates to build strong families based on sacramental marriages between a man and a woman and to be abundantly open to new life in their marriages. Furthermore, he invited graduates to educate youth and their own children by founding schools and universities or sending their children to good Catholic schools. As Dr. Geusau put it, “There is nothing more important than taking care of a child’s soul.” He also encouraged graduates to use their right to vote, or even to get elected or appointed to political office themselves. He is convinced that better politics begins with each of us and we ought to be deeply involved in this field.
The Rector concluded his words to the festive audience that evening with an inspiring call to give generously of ourselves: “So, my dear Graduates, and all listening today: be generous with your talents, because how can we change the world and reclaim the dignity and freedom of every human if you and I do not stand up and do our duty, speaking and acting in those places where we are called to be today? There is no need to be afraid, because as Saint Paul tells us, ‘God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work’ (2 Cor 9:7-8). So what are we waiting for?”
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