The Catholic University of America

May 17, 2008

Husband and Wife Address Graduates at CUA Commencement


  Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, and his wife, Dorian Anderson, address graduates at CUA's commencement.

WASHINGTON - For the first time in recent memory, a husband and wife delivered the main commencement address together at The Catholic University of America on May 17.

Carl Anderson, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, and his wife, Dorian Anderson, called upon the newest graduates of The Catholic University of America to a life of learning and of service to others, and paid tribute to the importance of the family.

The couple, both members of the Pontifical Council on the Family, told graduates at the university's 119th Annual Commencement exercises that "the challenges confronting us are great, but our response can be greater."

"It is obvious that we live in a world in which millions do not sit with us around a bountiful table. One billion people in the world today live on less than two dollars a day," said Mr. Anderson, who is supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. "But it need not be this way. We can do something about it. This is the challenge we face today. We are called to build a better society here in the United States. But we cannot stop within our own borders. We are called to transform society in such a way so that it will lead to a greater effort to overcome poverty, disease, hatred and violence throughout our world."


Kenneth Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, is presented with the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal by Father O'Connell.

Saturday's ceremony was held under blue skies on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Almost 1,200 students received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the presence of thousands of their family members and friends. (To view the ceremony video and transcript of the Andersons' address visit

At the ceremony, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, conferred an honorary Doctor of Theology degree on each of the Andersons.

The couple wished the students great success in their careers with one overarching piece of advice: "We hope that each of you realize that a career and a vocation are not the same thing and that you find your true vocation in the days ahead. A vocation is a commitment to your whole self to something that will raise you beyond yourself. If you are true to your vocation you will always be true to yourself."

Mrs. Anderson also spoke of the critical role of the family, which she described as "nature's school of life and love." "The family is that place where the transforming power of love is first experienced and is passed on to the future," Mrs. Anderson said. "If the family is a school of love, then it is a place where the lessons of charity, unity and hope are learned. For this reason it is no exaggeration to say that the ultimate fate of a truly human society lies in the family. And the ultimate fate of the family lies in the integrity of the lives together of husband and wife."

Nearly 1,200 graduates were honored at CUA's commencement.

The President's Award, given annually to one outstanding graduating senior, was presented during the proceedings to Joanna Berry. Berry earned a 3.937 grade point average during her four years at CUA and compiled an extraordinary record of service and leadership. After graduation she will be entering a religious order of sisters.

The James Cardinal Gibbons Medal was given to Kenneth Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services. The highest honor bestowed by the CUA Alumni Association, the Gibbons Medal recognizes an individual for distinguished and meritorious service to the Church, the nation, or The Catholic University of America

Outstanding students were lauded during the Honors Convocation on Friday, May 16, 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 16. (Visit to read the homily.)

Father O'Connell and President of the National Alumni Association, Anthony Albence (right), present graduate Joanna R. Berry with the President's Award.

Commencement exercises for the more than 270 graduates of The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, May 23, in the Great Upper Church of the National Shrine. The Honorable Samuel A. Alito Jr., associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, will be the speaker at the law school's exercises.