Father Croghan, Dr. Tocchet and Fr. Gibbons; members of the Board of Trustees; members of our esteemed faculty; proud parents, relatives and friends and, of course, Regis graduates of the Class of 2016, welcome to today’s commencement ceremony!
My comments today will be brief and perhaps a little bit unconventional.
I will start with a story. A few weeks ago, I saw a Broadway musical that has taken New York City by storm and which has become the talk of the town. It’s called “Hamilton”. And it tells the story of American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. The twist -- and what makes it just really fantastic fun -- is that much of the musical score is set to hip-hop music. Pretty incongruous, right? The story of 1700’s character, Alexander Hamilton, told through rap. But it works.
So, it got me thinking: why not tell the story of St. Ignatius and Regis High School through hip-hop? When you think about it, I would argue the story of St. Ignatius is much more stage-worthy than that of our First Treasury Secretary. After all, Ignatius started out as a military man, a fighter, a dashingly handsome womanizer, arrogant, and then after being badly wounded in battle, he experienced his conversion to Christ and ended up founding the Society of Jesus. This story has got everything Broadway is looking for: blood, sex, redemption and an ongoing 500-year legacy of service to others!
Which brings me to the unconventional part of this commencement speech. I have written the trailer for this upcoming musical and if you’ll indulge me for a moment and allow me to channel my inner Brooklynite, I’d like to perform it for you now. I call it “The Regis Rap:”
(Sung to tune of “Alexander Hamilton” by Lin Manuel Miranda)
Young Ignatius of Loyola
Fought the battle of Pamplona,
Seeking military fame
And looking to advance his name.
Aristocratic, looked fantastic
Kept the ladies quite ecstatic;
But oh how pride precedes the fall,
His leg was crushed by a cannonball
Laying low, convalescing,
Ignatius learned to count his blessings.
Read about Christ -- as a diversion,
Led to a complete conversion.
Praying in a desert cave,
He had a vision; it came in waves.
A generous heart, newly reformed
The Jesuit order had been born.
Here you are today: you're Regis graduates.
You worked hard to get here -- You should be proud of it.
But do you realize, you're St. Ignatius' descendants?
And now that you're alumni, can you handle it?
You went to Regis
So heed this advice:
You gotta think twice
'bout how you spend
The rest of your life.
Because much is expected
From those whom God has gifted
With talents, smarts and empathy
You've got to believe
There's something special you've received.
There's a world in need of justice
Go make a holy ruckus.
There is no better recipe:
Go serve the world relentlessly!
You know, I'm Class of '83,
so please don't even mess with me!
Now, the point of all of this is to leave you with two ideas: first, that we Regians all share an incredibly exciting, life-affirming Ignatian heritage. Sometimes, it’s easy to dismiss the stories we read about the saints or other famous people as just words in some historical document. But the reality is far more gripping when you reflect on the heroism, the sacrifices, and the tremendous good works performed by people like St. Ignatius; our Regis Foundress, Julia Grant, without whom we would not be here today; or our incredible faculty and priests. For me, and I hope, for you, to be motivated by the example of these lives so well-lived is exhilarating – and much more so than any Broadway musical or heart-pumping song. This common heritage is what binds us and inspires us as Regians and I encourage you to reflect upon it from time to time.
But reflection alone is insufficient. Your Regis education is a call to action which brings me to my second theme: go out into the world and make a difference. Regis is an invitation to stewardship – to following in the footsteps of St. Ignatius and so many others who came before us --to being men for others. So, be principled. Be generous. And stand up for the less fortunate among us.
Gentlemen of the Class of 2016, congratulations once again. I look forward to seeing you at Jug Night and to hearing about all the wonderful things you are doing. God Bless you all.