Catholic University graduates stand fast in faith

Suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark delivered the address at the 126th annual commencement ceremony of Catholic University in Washington May 16.

"Today you are starting to write you own suspense novel," she said. "It's called 'The Rest of My Life.'… Write the story of your lives so that your novel will be more than a best-seller. Live it and let it become a classic."

The author of 42 books, many of which have become international best-sellers, Higgins Clark encouraged graduates to build their relationships.

"I always give my protagonists a good friend, a buddy who will rejoice with them when the sun is shining and be there for them when the sky is falling in," she said. "That buddy may be a parent, a sibling, a lifetime pal, but I want all of you to have that kind of person in your life."

She began her speech by congratulating the graduates and encouraging them to be appreciative of their own efforts and the support of others.

"Remember that most of you are here today because of both the sacrifices of your family and your own efforts, summer jobs instead of days at the beach," she said. "Appreciate what others have done for you. … Justify the sacrifices they made. Be proud of all the hours you yourself have worked to come to this day."

Higgins Clark also spoke about life's challenges. In her own life, she faced the death of her father when she was a child, her husband's early death and the struggle to raise five children on her own.

"We don't want problems, but they do strengthen us," she said. "They force you to be on your toes, to overcome obstacles."

As new graduates work toward building a "fulfilling, giving life," Higgins Clark asked them to remain true to the moral values of Catholic U. She also urged them to live adventurously with an unwavering trust in God.

Catholic U. President John Garvey also addressed the new graduates and spoke about modesty. Although he acknowledged that modesty is "not the most inspiring commencement message," Garvey noted, "When you practice modesty, you also don't sell yourself short."

Moving forward, Garvey advised graduates to practice modesty in all their endeavors by protecting their virtue and maintaining relationships with family and friends. He also encouraged them to remain close to God.

"Pray every day," he said. "The greatest immodesty is to live without God. Without Him you can do nothing. With Him all things are possible."

During the ceremony, Catholic U. awarded honorary degrees to Higgins Clark, author-scholar Michael Novak as well as Francisco José Gómez de Argüello y Wirtz and Maria Carmen Hernández Barrera, co-initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement.

The university conferred approximately 1,850 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees during the ceremony. The Columbus School of Law will confer more than 125 degrees at its commencement ceremony May 22, in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington at 11 a.m.

This year's law school commencement speaker is Michael J. Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals football team and a CUA law alumnus.

Other graduation events held over commencement weekend included the Honors Convocation and a Baccalaureate Mass, both held May 15 at the shrine.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015