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Promises and miles to go: Reflections on convocation and liturgy

Blog | 09.19.2019

By Janet Clark, Ph.D., vice president for academic and student affairs

Clark at the podium of the church
Janet Clark, Ph.D., addressing the class of 2023 during the opening blessing.

On Monday, August 19, 2019, we formally opened the academic year with a joyful liturgy and community luncheon. I enjoy this tradition immensely. I feel uplifted and energized when we come together to celebrate the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College community. After a busy weekend of moving in, orientation and preparing for classes, it’s a special thing to take time to slow down and remember who we are and what we value by thanking God for all our blessings, and asking Him for guidance and continued blessings as we start a new year.

During the Liturgy, we recite promises. Many of you are familiar with the lyrics of the Ring Song, “we have promises and miles to go.” In concert with that theme, opening the year with a reminder of our promises, I believe, sets the course for us to follow.

I was lucky to have the pleasure of stating each promise and asking the students, faculty and staff to affirm the following actions, which I share with you here:

Student Promises:

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College empowers students to think critically, engage in lifelong leadership and effect positive change in a spirit of service and social responsibility. Are you prepared to engage in this academic challenge?

In the Catholic tradition of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence, we welcome students from all religious and cultural backgrounds. Are you ready to be part of this tradition and diverse community? 

In addition to developing their intellectual capacities and in line with our liberal arts foundation, students have the opportunity to cultivate their spiritual gifts through the values of excellence, community, diversity, integrity, knowledge and justice. Are you willing to challenge yourself intellectually and spiritually while respecting yourself and others?

Students responded to each with a resounding “WE ARE!”

Faculty and Staff Promises:

Faculty and staff, are you willing to help these students learn and to mentor them on their journey through Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College?

Faculty and staff, are you willing to be role models as you lead a life always seeking wisdom through critical thinking, lifelong leadership and social responsibility through service?

The faculty and staff also responded with a resounding “WE ARE!”

Reading those words and affirming our mission feels so relevant in the chaotic world we are living in currently. I am confident and proud that students within our community will learn to become, or continue to develop, as strong citizens for our ever-changing society.

The whole day felt welcoming, warm, important and exciting! The energy at The Woods is really palpable. Students are excited to make new friends and greet classmates they missed over the summer. Faculty and staff are excited that the buildings and grounds are bustling again as they stood ready to welcome students back to their “home away from home.”

I am blessed to be part of this unique and wonderful educational community, and equally blessed to work at a place where we start the year off with prayer and reflection of our values as a Catholic institution.

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