Graduation season is here, a time where many young people prepare to set out into the world and do their part. Along with the academic fanfare and congratulatory messages, commencement speeches serve as a customary send-off from one’s new alma mater.
What’s even better though, is when the send-off is soaked in Catholicism and truth! Here are CatholicVote’s top picks for best commencement speeches of 2023!
The Catholic Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl star shared some controversial advice at his alma mater’s commencement, telling students to “Get married and start a family.”
Butker explained that no matter what worldly success he or the graduates would accomplish, it means nothing when living only for oneself.
“And the truth is none of these accomplishments mean anything compared to the happiness I have found in my marriage and in starting a family. My confidence as a husband and father, and yes, even as a football player is rooted in my marriage with my wife, as we leave our mark on future generations by the children we bring into the world. How much greater of a legacy can anyone leave than that?”
Lila Rose, founder of pro-life organization LiveAction, encouraged students at Franciscan University not to play it safe after graduation, but, “Be like Christ. Be dangerous. Be dangerously good.”
Rose challenged the graduates to boldly take on their generation’s crises of loneliness, disconnection, and destruction.
Vision is key to being dangerously good. But what good is vision unless it shapes your actions? And for action, you need courage. Courage, practically speaking, is persevering for the good, even when it’s hard, lonely, or uncertain. You will find, as you leave Franciscan and go where God sends you, there will be moments where you feel tempted to fit in, to be quiet, to be safe. Hold on to the vision God gives you. Fight for it, and take risks for it. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Be daring! Remember, you were not made to be safe. You were made to be great.
Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester and founder of apostolate Word on Fire, Bishop Robert Barron told Hillsdale College graduates that the question they need to ask is, “not what we are to do, as important as that is, but rather what kind of person we ought to be.”
Barron said that this self-examination would determine the students’ reactions to future challenges.
Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness, or do we seek our own advantage? In a way, and I’ll say it especially to the graduates, there is no question in the moral and spiritual order more fundamental than that … I have the confident hope, graduates, that your years at Hillsdale College have prepared you above all to shape your characters to become the kind of persons who would endure justice rather than commit injustice, who would never dream of worshiping at the altar of an idol, and who wouldn’t surrender the integrity of your souls for the whole world.
In his commencement speech, author and social scientist Arthur Brooks addressed the anxiety that many graduates face when determining what’s next in life. Brooks said the solution lies in looking to one’s foremost identity. “We’re beings made in God’s image to love others,” said Brooks. “That’s your vocation. Just love.”
Brooks emphasized that regardless of what the students do in life, it needs to be grounded in love to yield happiness.
“You don’t cut corners when it comes to working in God’s image. This is also the best way to share our faith. The best way to bring people to the love of Christ is to be great at what you do. The reason for that is that excellence draws people like moths to a flame. Your excellence, fellow Catholics, is your missionary work. Take it seriously.”
Sohrab Ahmari, journalist, author, and founder of COMPACT Magazine, declared to students at St. Thomas More College that, “Being bound to tradition has rendered you free. Orthodoxy has prepared you for an authentically emancipatory politics.”
Ahmari explained that Christianity has been criticized for shackling the mind through adherence to tradition, but then remarked that it is actually the so-called “free mind” that enslaves itself by rejecting faith and reason.
“You, as Christian citizens, can say with confidence that no, market and technology are not, in fact, “natural,” but human tools and institutions, subject to our political determination, to political choice—subject to the imperatives of justice and other common goods.”
Attended any commencements this year? Share your favorite speech in the comments!