ATCHISON, Kan. — A Cardinal became a Raven in Royals territory on May 14. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan received an honorary degree at Benedictine College’s commencement ceremony, making him an “honorary Raven.”
Baseball was on the minds of the Cardinal from Mets territory and his old seminary classmate, Kansas City-Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann. The two joked about the bet they made over the last World Series.
The weekend highlighted the way Benedictine College, just like the Kansas City Royals, has become a national force.
In his homily at the Baccalaureate Mass on May 13, Archbishop Naumann told students that “As a Benedictine College graduate, you have been taught not to be content with mediocrity. … Having Cardinal Dolan as your commencement speaker is a tribute to Benedictine College’s national reputation.”
Addressing the audience of 396 graduating students at commencement, Cardinal Dolan said, “I have heard exhilarating reports about the success of Benedictine College even back in New York City.”
In his address, he called on students to “dream and dare” to make a difference in difficult circumstances.
“Four years ago you made a very significant choice,” he said. “You took a dream and a dare to entrust your future to a college that believes, contrary to the reigning ideology of our country, that faith and reason are hardly foes but allies, that allegiance to Jesus and his Church actually liberates one for greatness.”
Cardinal Dolan said he has seen the possibilities of a Benedictine College education in a student he met in a refugee camp in Iraq.
The camp was filled with “refugees your own age who had lost families and homes and careers and possessions — everything but their faith and that thirst for learning that gives them hope in a terrain blotched by international bullies, by bombs and blood,” he said. “And there is Josh Radick, your fellow alumnus, smack dab in the middle of all that.”
He called all the students to be like Josh, following “the call to greatness he sensed on this campus.”
Along with the serious purpose, Cardinal Dolan also delivered some of his trademark humorous one-liners.
“It’s good to be back in the Midwest,” said Dolan. “I knew I was out of New York when they didn’t lock the car when they dropped me off on campus.”
Noting the mortar boards in the room and his own red biretta, he said, “For once, I’m not the only one in the room with a strange hat.”
Dolan clearly had a connection with the commencement day audience. He mentioned several people by name and referenced valedictorian Jerome Roehm’s speech.
“Be open to God’s will,” Roehm said in his valedictorian speech. “However we humans measure success with all our medals awards and titles, this really comes second to the one thing that matters: following Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Dolan ended the event in the same vein, calling on students to imitate Mary in openness to God’s will.
Telling students he had just visited the campus grotto, he said, “Mary is very much at home here, and we are at home with her. Her fiat, her ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word,’ provided the word of God with a human nature. And let me conclude by daring to ask: Are we not called to do the same? If you respond ‘Yes,’ your light will shine in the darkness as much as those candles in the Grotto illuminate this venerable campus.”