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Yale Divinity School Commencement Exercises
May 24, 2009

Harold Attridge, Dean of Yale Divinity School

Editor’s note: Written version of comments may vary slightly from actual delivery.

Charge to the Graduates

Congratulations graduates.  You have made it through the rigors not only of two or three years of intense study, but also several days of intense celebration!  There is only one more speech to get through and we’ll keep this one short.

A charge from the dean at this point in fact seems a bit of overkill.  If you were at the Catholic Mass on Saturday, you heard Bishop Rosazza remind you of the value of your life in Christ.  If you were at the Berkeley evensong, you heard Dean Britton tell you of the importance of coming down from the mountaintop and engaging in the work of ministerial leadership.  At yesterday’s commencement worship, you heard Jaime Lara remind you in a similar vein of the task of creating a New Jerusalem or at least a New Haven here on earth.  At this morning’s communion service you heard Kristen Leslie tell you about the art of head banging on desks and the aha moment of broken bread.

So by now you have been charged, recharged, indeed supercharged, more charged than my iPhone. But you know your faculty here, and we can’t resist the opportunity to get one last word in. 

Let me first, as did Andre Willis yesterday, thank you all for what you have brought to YDS: your talent, your enthusiasm, your critical skills, your curiosity, your creativity, and your commitment.  I hope that we have helped you during your time with us, to hone your skills, to open new channels for your creativity, to develop new tools to harness your enthusiasm.  My basic charge to you is to continue what you have begun at YDS, whether you are going to serve the Church, to extend your studies, or to pursue another career path. Whatever you are going to do, the Church and the World desperately need all that you have become in this community of memory and hope.  A fearful world needs your ability to inspire hope, a grieving world needs your capacity to console, a greedy world needs your passion for justice, a world racked by war needs your ability to bring the gospel of reconciling love.

So, as Denys Turner said, get on your way, and as you go keep in mind the two parts of Paul’s charge to you today.  “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice,” for, with all of its challenges the task of working for God’s reign is indeed a joyous one. Paul also tells us: “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen.”  Amen to that. 

Go then with our affection and our best wishes for your future.  Go in Peace.


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