On Saturday, more than 5,500 family and friends packed into Chaifetz Arena to celebrate Saint Louis University's 2011 commencement. (WATCH THE VIDEO)
University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., offered a salutation and invocation to start the ceremony. He told the graduates that he was confident they would make a difference in the world.
“What you have already done in your four, five or so years at SLU is indeed amazing,” Biondi said. “But it is nothing compared to what you will do. Part of the joy we feel today lies in the promise you represent for us.”
He added that SLU’s newest alumni were always welcome back on campus.
“Wherever your life takes you, you always have a home at SLU,” Biondi said. “We will always be here for you, and you will always be Billikens.”
Before they were sent on their way, the graduates heard from Dr. Anthony Tersigni, the president and CEO of Ascension Health Inc., the nation’s largest Catholic health care system.
“I’m excited by the energy and enthusiasm I see in your faces this morning,” Tersigni said. “It gives me a great deal of confidence to know that the future of our country and the world is in your hands.”
During the ceremony Biondi conferred honorary degrees upon Tersigni as well as St. Louis artist Brother Mel Meyer, S.M., and local philanthropists Marvin and Harlene Wool.
Mark Shook, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Temple Israel, delivered a blessing to close the ceremony.
“As all of us go forth from this time and place in our lives, may we be ever mindful of the constant presence of God, ever grateful for the love and sacrifice of family and friends, ever faithful to the image of God that lives within all of us,” Shook said. “God is in this place, and we do know it.”
A number of activities preceded Saturday’s commencement, including pre-commencement ceremonies for the individual colleges and schools. The annual Baccalaureate Mass on Friday drew an overflow crowd to St. Francis Xavier College Church.