Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
May 26, 2023 // Diocese

Holy Cross College Graduates told to ‘Put Out into the Deep’ 

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

“Put out into the deep!” These words from Bishop Rhoades to the graduating class at Holy Cross College, echoing Jesus’ invitation to St. Peter, reminded of the importance to courageously pursue greatness through faith and trust in the Lord. 

At the Baccalaureate Mass on Friday, May 19, Bishop Rhoades emphasized, “All of us can live superficial lives if we want to. We can settle for mediocrity and immerse ourselves in a shallow culture we create for ourselves or we can dive deeply into the life of God and His Church and embrace the challenge of Christian discipleship. Pope Benedict XVI once said to young people like you: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Graduates, if comfort is your aim, your lives will be mediocre. God calls you to so much more. He calls you to “put out into the deep” into the depths of His love in the depths of your souls. He calls you to a deep friendship with Him. He is calling you to pursue perfection, holiness. Think of any of the saints of the Church. They did not live superficial lives. Instead, they obeyed Jesus’ command to put out into the deep and they received a miracle like St. Peter did: an invasion of God’s grace in their lives. This can happen to us as well.” 

Photos by Evan Cobb
Graduates of Holy Cross College throw their caps in the air in celebration following Commencement on Saturday, May 20, at the Pfeil Center in Notre Dame.

Bishop Rhoades also reminded of the challenges that can come in the Christian life, stating, “The cross may look like failure, sorrow, and defeat. But the cross is the full power of God’s boundless love, and the greatest expression of His love. It is indeed “the wisdom of God,” who out of love became man and suffered and died for us to bring us eternal life and salvation. To live our lives with faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us is the most fulfilling and adventurous life. The Lord calls us to take up our cross and follow Him, which means imitating His self-giving love and seeking not to be served, but to serve. It means not living a selfish, narcissistic, and materialistic life. Rather, it means living for God and others. The wisdom of the cross is the source of a meaningful life and a life of interior joy and peace. The way of Jesus is the path that leads to true greatness, the greatness we were made for, which is holiness. It’s the life that leads to eternal joy in the glory of the resurrection. From a merely human point of view and the logic of the world, taking up the cross, living the Beatitudes and the other teachings of Jesus and the Church, may seem foolish and may even bring scorn upon us. “Putting out into the deep” seemed foolish to Peter, but he did it. We’re called to say with St. Peter: “Lord, at your command I will lower the nets.” I’ll put out into the deep. I’ll trust your word. I’ll leave the security of a superficial life to embark on the adventure of life with you as my Master. I will take up the cross and follow you.” 

The following day, the College held their 56th commencement exercises in the Pfeil Center, with initial introductions from John Gschwind, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Michael Griffin, Provost. Griffin exclaimed, “This is the commencement of your lives as graduates of Holy Cross College, that is to say, as innovative scholars, courageous citizens, virtuous leaders and hopeful disciples in a world that tremendously needs you!” 

Brother Provincial Kenneth Haters, C.S.C. Holy Cross College Trustee, offers a benediction at the conclusion of the college’s 56th Commencement on Saturday, May 20, 2023.

Stephen McNulty, this year’s Valedictorian, graduating with a degree in Theology and a minor in Business, reminded his classmates and peers that they have not come to this place of achievement on their own, but have benefited from the support of many. McNulty personally thanked those who helped him in his own journey, including, family, faculty, his fiancée, and his mentor, Andrew Ouellette, formerly Director of Campus Ministry, now Director of Foundation Relations and Church Relations. In the heart of his speech, McNulty emphasized the conversion of heart he experienced at Holy Cross, coming to see the importance of a liberal arts education, not merely following the path of “the more you learn, the more you earn,” but the value of seeking wisdom for its own sake. Acknowledging that Holy Cross has provided a worthwhile financial return on investment, he also expressed his gratitude for being challenged to see beyond personal monetary gain and instead seek knowledge to become a “master critical thinker” whose whole person is educated in the service of the common good. 

Holy Cross also honored three Salutatorians, each representing the College’s three academic departments who, in the words of Provost Griffin, in their scholarship and presence at the College have exemplified the highest ideals of a Holy Cross education. Daniela Bautista-Amick received the award in the Department of Social Sciences, Brandon Bowman in the Department of Natural and Quantitative Sciences, and Lydia Fell in the Department of Humanities. 

Holy Cross College graduating seniors walk to the Pfeil Center to participate in the college’s 56th Commencement on Saturday, May 20, 2023.

Honorary doctoral degrees were then conferred upon four individuals, recognized for “bringing honor to their communities, to the Church, to the world and to the mission of Holy Cross.” Recipients were Larry Garatoni, Elizabeth Naquin Borger, Deacon Melvin R. Tardy, Jr., and Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C. 

Holy Cross Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C., President of Holy Cross Family Ministries, delivered the 2023 Commencement address. A native of Uganda who studied in Rome and has taught at universities in Africa, Asia, and North America, Father Jenga now continues the ministerial work begun by Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., who continually emphasized, “The Family that Prays Together Stays Together,” and, “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” Building on Father Peyton’s rich legacy, Holy Cross Family Ministries uses mass media, social media, and live events to accomplish its mission across five continents, one family at a time. 

A first-generation college graduate who walked to school and church without shoes, Father Jenga lived with little food and money, but worked hard and responsibly. He shared, “My friends and I learned that it was not our background that would determine our future, but our choices, our work ethics, our relationships, and our abiding faith in God that would determine our success down the road.” Recognizing the college’s focus on students becoming competent and courageous leaders, scholars, global citizens, and disciples, he stressed, “Please know that the philosophy and values taught by this institution are functional in the real world. If you desire to transform your life and the lives of others, embody these values and keep sharpening them throughout your life. These values will make you uniquely you and you will fulfill the purpose for which God put you here.” Sharing upon his own experiences of working as a youth chaplain in the slums of Nairobi as well as sitting in board rooms with some of the wealthiest people in the United States, he reiterated the importance of having the openness and courage to cross borders and encounters others. He continued, “As human beings, we are created for relationship with something higher than ourselves. Faith in God has provided me with structure, values, discipline, and a community that I can continue to lean on. When you lean on God, you will be amazed at the strength, stability, and meaning that you will be able to find in your life.” 

The alumni address was delivered by 2015 graduate Robert Lulgjuraj, who served as President of the Student Government Association during his senior year and now serves as a Prosecuting Attorney for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in Detroit. 

The events concluded with an address from President Marco Clark, who completed his first year as the first lay person to serve as leader in the College’s 56-year history. Doctor Clark expressed his deep appreciation for his administrative team and for a staff and faculty dedicated to providing “a rigorous and relevant Catholic liberal arts education rooted in relationships and focused on the common good,” and in support for the new graduates, each their own story and journey of perseverance. 

All events of the Commencement exercises can be viewed on Holy Cross College’s website at 


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