John Paul the Great Catholic University held its 4th commencement on Friday, September 7, 2012 at St Margaret's Catholic Church in Oceanside, CA.
The University granted three MBA degrees in Film Producing and 21 undergraduate degrees to the class of 2012. The undergraduate areas of emphasis included: Business (4); New Evangelization (5); Video Gaming (2); Video Journalism (2); and screenwriting, directing, and producing (8). The class included five seminarians - four from the Chaldean Catholic rite seminary of Mar Abba the Great in El Cajon, CA and one from the Eudist House of Formation in La Mesa, CA.
Student honors and awards included:
- Valedictorian: Nicholas Heye, Escondido, CA
- The Founders' Award - Katy Sohler, Merchantville, NJ
- Business Acumen - Nicholas Heye, Escondido, CA
- Artistic Visionary - Timothy Lochner, Anchorage, Alaska
- New Evangelization Award - Eleuterio Mireles, East Chicago, IN
Mass was celebrated by Bishop Cirilo Flores, coadjutor Bishop of San Diego. In his homily Bishop Flores explained to the graduates how the task of evangelization has changed since his childhood. Then, the focus was on bringing the Gospel to people in foreign lands who had never heard of the name of Jesus. Today, the challenge of evangelization is communicating the Gospel to the culture around us, which has already heard the Gospel and rejected it. Reaching our culture requires a new evangelization and the use of the tools of modern communication. He challenged the new graduates that given the formation and skills they have obtained at JP Catholic, they are uniquely positioned to respond to the challenge of the new evangelization.
In his Commencement address, Bishop Flores held up Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a model of Christian service. He described how she drew her strength from the Eucharist, which Blessed John Paul the Great often described as the 'source and summit of the Christian life' - quoting 'Lumen Gentium.' He recalled her statement that the spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the material poverty of the people of Calcutta. He reiterated the call he made in his homily to the graduates to bring the Gospel to those around us who are materially rich yet spiritually impoverished.
Dr Connolly in his welcome to parents described the hallmarks of the new graduates as having: (1) developed a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ; (2) discovered their professional passion; (3) acquired the competencies to work professionally; and (4) demonstrated significant accomplishments that serve as a validation of their professional competencies.
The senior student address was given by Katy Sohler. She reminded her fellow students that they are called to serve their fellow man and to bring them the love of Christ. She asked her fellow graduates 'when you defend our beautiful faith, never argue, always discuss. Begin where you and your opponent agree then work your way backward toward your disagreements. This builds bridges rather than walls. Don't be afraid to listen, the Truth of Christ will stand up to any argument, and don't be afraid to admit when you are wrong.' Read her address
Fr Andy Younan, professor of Philosophy, in his charge to the new graduates urged them not to build castles in the clouds, or on sand or even on a rock, but instead to be a 'brick' and let Christ build using them.
Bishop Sarhad Jammo of the Eparchy of St Peter the Apostle, which spans across nineteen states of the western USA, and whose bishopric currently sits at St. Peter's Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in El Cajon, CA was also in attendance.