The Catholic University of America

May 12, 2012

Cardinal Dolan Urges Graduates to Follow Law of the Gift


Cardinal Timothy Dolan with President John Garvey.
> Photo gallery

At the 123rd Annual Commencement of The Catholic University of America on Saturday, May 12, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered an address that focused on selflessness and the vigorous defense of religious, specifically Catholic, values and teachings.

In beginning his address, Cardinal Dolan mentioned that he had or will have given three university commencement addresses in addition to two high school speeches, one at an eighth grade promotion, and even an address for a preschool class.

“I love doing them,” said the charismatic Catholic leader.

“But this one on this beautiful May morning is especially meaningful to me, as I myself am a proud and grateful alumnus of this institution of highest learning,” said Cardinal Dolan. “…I am deeply grateful, as a Catholic, and as an American, for the iconic value of this, The Catholic University of America.”

The ceremony on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was held under a sunny, blue sky.

“I was in charge of the weather today,” said the good-humored cardinal to a round of laughter and applause. “I am new to being a cardinal so I forgot my red sash,” he added.

Cardinal Dolan, who was elevated to the College of Cardinals earlier this year, added that he was grateful to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and Chancellor of Catholic University, who stepped in to lend him one.

Quoting from recent remarks by Pope Benedict XVI to several American bishops, Cardinal Dolan said the pope spoke warmly of Catholic education in the United States, and of the need for Catholic colleges and universities to “…to reaffirm their distinctive identity in fidelity to their founding ideals and the Church’s mission in service to the Gospel.”

Cardinal Dolan said the Holy Father also expressed the need for “…ecclesial communion and solidarity in the Church’s educational apostolate…”

“Now I ask you,” he said, “Is not a big part of our gladness and pride this happy morning of graduation, a grateful recognition that this University does indeed exude such “ecclesial communion and solidarity?

Cardinal Timothy Dolan  
Cardinal Dolan steps up to the podium to speak to the graduates.

“That this University is both Catholic and American, flowing from the most noble ideals of truth and respect for human dignity that are at the heart of our Church and the country we love? That a university’s genuine greatness comes not from pursuing what is most chic, recent, or faddish, but what is most timeless, true, good, and beautiful in creation and creatures? That the true goal of a university is to prepare a student not only for a career but for fullness of life here and in eternity?”

“This University you can now, with me, call alma mater, at the heart of our nation, is also ex corde ecclesiae, at the heart of the Church,” said Cardinal Dolan.

He shared with graduates the story of Clara Almazo, who was killed when she was hit by a car while leaving Holy Thursday Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish on Staten Island. She was with her little grandson Michael and as the car barreled toward them, she pushed him out of the way and was instantly killed. He called it a “selfless act of love.”

“Jesus Christ, His Church, the University, Clara Almazo, truth, love, the words of Pope Benedict, the achievement and the hopes of the Class of 2012… Might I suggest these all coalesce in what we call the Law of the Gift,” he said.

Cardinal Dolan offered definitions of the Law of the Gift including from the Son of God: “Greater love than this no one has, than to give one’s life for one’s friend,” and from St. Francis: “It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Cardinal Dolan said, “Religion, faith, the Church promote a culture built on the Law of the Gift,” and he predicted that “a challenge you, Class of 2012, will face is the defense of religious freedom as part of both our American and creedal legacy.”

  Honorary degree recipients Rev. Julian Carrón, far left, and Giuseppe Mazzotta, far right, with Cardinal Dolan, Garvey, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and Chancellor of the University.

As he concluded his commencement address, Cardinal Dolan said he praised God as he looked out with “admiration, affection, and appreciation at the graduates who are new Clara Almazos, children of beaming parents, alumni of a University where goodness, truth, and beauty reign and where every student majors in the Law of the Gift.”

Catholic University President John Garvey had the final words for the new graduates. He told them it is his custom to speak to departing graduates about one of the virtues. He said he had spoken in the past about “big-time theological” virtues such as charity and hope and cardinal virtues such as fortitude and prudence.

“Today I would like to say a word about patience,” he said. He admitted that sometimes patience might not even seem like a virtue. “But it is. And it’s not what you think. It is not the disposition to wait for what you want,” said Garvey.

That is a skill, not a virtue, he said. “Patience is the disposition to await God’s grace,” he told the new graduates, using St. Monica as an example. She spent 17 years praying for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine.

  Related Links

Full text

> Cardinal Dolan's Speech
> President Garvey's Speech
> Baccalaureate Mass Homily

> Graduate Succeeds Despite Dyslexia Obstacles
> CUA Is a Family Affair for the Martins
> Nursing Major Wins President’s Award


> Cardinal Dolan's Address
> President Garvey's Address
> Baccalaureate Mass
> Honors Convocation

“Monica’s persistence in knocking on God’s door and waiting for an answer is what St. Paul meant when he said that “Love is patient…

“Patience is the ground that virtue grows in,” said Garvey. And later he also described it as “the seedbed of humility and justice.”

“Commencement is the beginning of a new life, and filled with uncertainties. The two biggest are: What will I do? And whom will I do it with? Will I be a lawyer, a painter, a nurse, or a mechanical engineer? And will I marry Agnes or join the Franciscans? Have the patience to answer these questions right. Get up every morning with the disposition to await God’s grace,” concluded Garvey.

Reflecting on her graduation from Catholic University, Elizabeth Foley, who earned a Bachelor of Arts, said, “My grandmother was so excited when she heard that Cardinal Dolan was going to be our commencement speaker. After the ceremony, she said he exceeded her expectations and I agree. He gave a great message to my class and he inspired us to walk away knowing we will succeed — and will do so by putting others before ourselves.”


During the commencement ceremony, Catholic University awarded the President’s Medal to Cardinal Dolan. Honorary degrees were conferred upon four other individuals. They are Rev. Julian Carrón, leader of the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation; Giuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling Professor of Humanities for Italian at Yale University; Carmen Ana Casal de Unanue, community leader and philanthropist; and Joseph A. Unanue, alumnus and former president and CEO of Goya Foods.

Alyssa Marie Pellegrino, who earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing, was the recipient of the President’s Award, the highest honor given to a graduating senior in recognition of service, leadership, and outstanding scholarship.

Commencement 2012  
 > Photo gallery  

The University conferred approximately 1,500 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees during the ceremony. In addition, approximately 250 degrees will be distributed at the commencement ceremony for CUA’s Columbus School of Law on Friday, May 25. This year’s law school commencement speaker is Daniel M. Gallagher, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Gallagher earned his law degree from the Columbus School of Law in 1999.

A highlight of the ceremony was the music provided by the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music Wind Ensemble conducted by John H. Mitchell. Memorable renditions of the national Anthem and the Alma Mater were sung by Emily Elizabeth Casey, who earned her Bachelor of Music at the ceremony.

Commencement was held during the two days of graduation events that included an Honors Convocation and the Baccalaureate Mass, both held at the Basilica on Friday. At the end of the Mass, the community recognized a dozen students who will be devoting at least one year to volunteering for a service organization, three students who will be entering the priesthood or religious life, and eight students who are entering the military.



More news from CUA