The weekend of May 3rd and 4th, 2019 featured several key events for Ave Maria University’s graduating Class of 2019. This was the largest group of graduates since the University’s founding with 248 Baccalaureate degree recipients, ten receiving a Masters of Arts in Theology, and one receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology. The weekend activities began Friday evening with the traditional Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Dewane in the Ave Maria Parish Church. The Mass featured a procession of faculty and graduating students concluding with the graduate cap toss on the Church steps.
Following Mass, the annual President’s Dinner was held in the Bob Thomas Student Union which featured President Towey addressing a packed house and reviewing each of the finalists for the 2019 President’s Award selected from a distinguished group of nominees. The President’s Award is the highest honor conferred by AMU upon a graduating senior each year. This year’s winner was James Wesley (see more details in the related article dated May 3).
AMU’s 15th Commencement was held on the morning of Saturday, May 4th inside of the Tom Golisano Field House. The event was attended by a crowd of well over 1,200, including Ave’s founder and Chancellor Tom Monaghan and other members of the University’s Board of Trustees. The ceremony began with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by graduating senior Angelie Batista followed by an invocation by Fr. Rick Martignetti, OFM. President Towey provided the ceremony’s opening remarks and reminded graduates that, “However you serve, wherever you go, remember that you are called to spread the gospel and the good news.”
President Towey then proceeded to confer an honorary Doctorate degree upon Dr. Louis C. Argenta. Dr. Argenta is an internationally renowned surgeon who pioneered numerous techniques for treating wounds and burns. Dr. Argenta is a professor and chairman emeritus in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Wake Forest University. He is also a member of AMU’s Board of Trustees, chairing the Academic Affairs Committee, who has been a strong University supporter for many years.
The commencement address was given by United States Congressman Dan Lipinski (D, IL). Representative Lipinski is in a unique position in American politics today as a conservative, pro-life Democrat and a humble politician. Representative Lipinski serves as co-chair for the bi-partisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. Rep. Lipinski congratulated the graduating students for choosing Ave Maria University and completing the education and preparation to take Jesus with them as they enter the world. He urged graduates to, “Focus on a vocation and not just a career.” And to, “Always listen to God and have the courage to go where He is leading you.”
Following the conferring of degrees and awarding of diplomas, 2019 Valedictorian Genevieve Riley addressed her fellow graduates. Riley graduated with a 4.0 GPA in Accounting with a minor in Economics. She was in the AMU Honors Program and the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society. In addition, she was a member of the Talitha Koum household, a Resident Assistant and spent four years on the varsity soccer team where she was a captain this past year. Riley’s address spoke about the “Ave Experience” which has prepared this class to go out into the world to achieve greatness as followers of Christ. She concluded with these words for her classmates, “It’s finally time to perform and put into play what we have practiced for four years, it’s gametime!”
Congratulations Ave Maria University Class of 2019!