The Catholic University of America

May 12, 2007

Tony Snow Encourages 2007 Graduates to Love

White House Press Secretary Addresses CUA Commencement
Tony Snow addresses graduates at CUA's 118th Annual Commencement.

WASHINGTON - White House Press Secretary Tony Snow gave the newest graduates of The Catholic University of America several rules for living - emphasizing the power of love and prayer - at the university's 118th Annual Commencement exercises, held May 12, 2007.

"Think not only of what it means to love but what it means to be loved," Snow said in his commencement address. "I have a lot of experience with that. Since the news that I have cancer again, I've heard from thousands and thousands of people and I have been the subject of untold prayer. I'm telling you right now: You're young [and you feel] bullet-proof and invincible. [But] never underestimate the power of other people's love and prayer. They have incredible power. It's as if I've been carried on the shoulders of an entire army. And they have made me weightless."

Saturday's ceremony was held under blue skies on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. More than 900 students received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the presence of thousands of their family members and friends. (To view the ceremony online, visit

At the ceremony, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, conferred an honorary Doctor of humane letters degree on Anthony Williams, former mayor of Washington, D.C., and now CEO of Public Property Realty Investment Trust Inc, "in recognition of his indispensable role in ushering in an era of financial stability, growth and confidence in our nation's capital." Father O'Connell also awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Snow for his contributions to the fields of public service and print and television journalism.

As the main commencement speaker, Snow told graduates that "to love is to acknowledge that life is not about you. I want you to remember that: It's not about you. It's a hard lesson; a lot of people go through life and never learn it. [Love is] to submit willingly, heart and soul, to things that matter…. The only things that are sure to endure are the artifacts of love. So go out and build as many as you can."

Snow offered two anecdotes about working with President Bush - one describing a harrowing mountain bike ride early in his tenure as press secretary and another about the President's recent visit to the tornado-stricken town of Greensburg, Ky.

But the former broadcast news commentator and columnist didn't dwell too long on himself during the speech, opting instead for a call to students to use their new degrees, critical thinking skills and a sense of adventure to embark on a life of learning, commitment, love and faith.

Father O'Connell, Anthony Williams, Tony Snow and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, CUA's chancellor gathered prior to the beginning of the Commencement ceremony.

"Faith and reason are knitted together in the human soul," he said, "so don't leave home without either one."

Snow advised the graduates to "go off-road," metaphorically speaking: "For every important venture or adventure in your life, you're going to dangle one foot over the abyss of uncertainty and ask, 'Can I do this? Am I up to it?'" You're going to summon faith in God, your friends, strangers and, most of all, in yourself. When you're going off-road, don't be content with what you know now. The reason you came to college is you didn't know very much. Now you know a little more. But the challenge is to keep building on [that learning]."

To read Snow's entire commencement address, click here.

The President's Award, given annually to one outstanding graduating senior, was presented during the proceedings to Megan Payne of Elkton, Md. A biomedical engineering major with a minor in mathematics, Payne has a 3.892 grade point average, was captain of the women's field hockey team in 2006, was president of the CUA chapter of the Society of Women Engineers in 2006-2007 and was active in numerous other organizations on campus.

Catherine Orzech from Londonderry, N.H., who earned a bachelor of science in biology, poses with family members following Commencement. Orzech's older brother, who is deployed in Afghanistan and could not attend, had t-shirts made reading "Member of the Catherine Orzech Fan Club" to celebrate his sister. On the back of the shirt, he listed her name among the six other members of the family who have graduated from Catholic University, including their parents.

The President's Medal - the university's highest honor, given for extraordinary service to the Church, nation and university - was given to Mabel McGlothlin, the recently retired senior executive assistant to CUA's provost, who for almost 30 years has been a key member of the university's administrative staff.

Outstanding students were lauded during the Honors Convocation on Friday, May 11, at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. Father O'Connell was the official celebrant and homilist during the Baccalaureate Mass in the National Shrine, Great Upper Church, on May 11. To read the homily, click here.

Commencement exercises for the more than 250 graduates of The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, May 25, in the Great Upper Church of the National Shrine. R. James Nicholson, U.S. secretary of veterans affairs, will be the speaker at the law school's exercises.