ABC News' Cokie Roberts addresses 1,330 graduates of Fairfield University's Class of 2004

ABC News' Cokie Roberts addresses 1,330 graduates of Fairfield University's Class of 2004

ABC News' Cokie Roberts offered words of encouragement and solace to graduates of Fairfield University's Class of 2004, during her commencement address Sunday. The University's 54th graduation ceremony, the last under the tenure of President Aloysius P. Kelley., S.J., was both celebratory and sad, as students also mourned the recent loss of one of their peers.

Francis J. Marx V, 21, of Richboro, Pa., was killed Thursday in a bus/pedestrian accident, just days before he was to make the valedictory address at the graduation ceremonies. A moment of silence was observed at the ceremony in honor of Marx, and his parents, Maureen Marx and Francis Marx IV, of Fairfield University's Class of 1976, accepted their son's diploma.

Roberts, ABC News' award-winning political commentator and senior news analyst for National Public Radio, drew upon a theme of service and action that Marx had hoped to share with the class.

Marx had written in his valedictory address: "Dedicating ourselves to what we are most passionate about will allow us to be the best at what we do and will translate into the fulfillment of our responsibility to achieve for others." Later in the speech he wrote: "Do not live passively, but be extraordinary and represent Fairfield well by making a difference in the world."

"You can make a remarkable difference if you do it in public service," Roberts said, suggesting such a career as a way to fulfill the Jesuit ideals of service to others that the students had been taught during their years at Fairfield, a Jesuit university.

"Our civic society is really all we have by way of nationhood," Roberts said, noting that Americans do not share a common language, history or ethnicity, but that they do share common institutions created by the Constitution.

Roberts commiserated with the class over the loss of Marx and the difficult times they had shared together, including Sept. 11. She reminded the class of the conviction that God brings good out of evil.

"It is the theological virtue of hope that leads us to believe that," Roberts said.

Roberts received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Fairfield University. Other honorary degree recipients were Reverend Mother Dolores Hart, Prioress, O.S.B., at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn.; United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit Guido Calabresi of Woodbridge, Conn.; and James F. Hanrahan of Oakdale, Conn., founder, chancellor and headmaster emeritus of Saint Thomas More School.

The commencement marked the largest ever for Fairfield University, with 1,330 graduates from the University's six schools. It was also unique in that it was the last for Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., who has announced that he will retire this June after 25 years of service as president.

Fairfield University awarded its Saint Ignatius Loyola Medal for outstanding university service to Robert D. Keder of Seymour, Conn. The Bellarmine Medal, which is given to the student with the highest four-year academic average, went to Christine A. Carpino of Macungie, Pa., and Allison Marie Michal of Lincroft, N.J.

Posted On: 05-23-2004 10:05 AM

Volume: 36 Number: 290