Commencement: Togetherness in Solidarity
By Pamela J. Butz, 2013 Class President
Sunday, May 19, 2013
As class president, it is a great honor to bring greetings on behalf of the Class of 2013 to all of our proud families, friends, and distinguished guests gathered here this morning. And as a Music Education major, it is a special treat to give recognition to our always-wonderful but oftentimes underappreciated Commencement Band.
To speak of all of the things that our class has experienced together is an impossible task. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on an iconic weekend that sums up who we are as a class and who we are as a college. I am of course speaking of Junior Ring Weekend.
For many generations, Providence College students have made lifelong memories at JRW. And our class was no exception. Together we celebrated our friendships and our membership in the Friar family. From the beginning of the opening Mass to the last song at the formal, we rejoiced together. And it’s that togetherness that characterizes PC. It’s Providence at its best.
But for me, there was another side of JRW. Four days before the weekend’s activities began, my father passed away at the age of 59. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer just three weeks earlier, his death left my family reeling. While he wasn’t a Providence alum, he loved everything about PC and loved that I was here, an adoration shared by many. For months I gave him updates on the planning of the weekend, and I could not believe that he wouldn’t be there to see it unfold.
In the midst of my family’s sorrow, I was able to attend JRW Mass accompanied by my family and PC family. The outpouring of support I received there from my classmates was beyond measure. They shared in my sufferings and helped to make those hard days more bearable. I was weighed down by grief and all of my friends were right there with me. We went through it together. And it’s that togetherness that characterizes PC. That too is Providence at its best.
When times were good, we rejoiced together and our joy grew. When trials and tragedies came, we mourned together and our burdens, being shared by many, were made lighter. Whatever the situation, we were together and our lives have been better for it.
This was the case with countless good times: Done with Civ, Done with College, snowless snow days, Connections and Transformation retreats, Senior Nights, Intramural championships, Friar wins, late nights talking with roommates . . . all better because we were there together.
This was the case with the bad times as well: we mourned the loss of our classmate John Montanaro who passed away two years ago, and instinctively gravitated towards one another and towards impromptu Masses at St. Dominic Chapel in the wake of tragedies at Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon, which I ran as a charity runner in memory of Dad but am fortunate to finish in 2014 . . . All of these instances of tragedy made less burdensome and slightly easier because we went through them together.
This morning, we come together as a class one final time. We are grateful to all of you who are gathered with us, and whose love and support have brought us to this day. And on behalf of all of the members of the Providence College Class of 2013, it is a pleasure to welcome you all to our Commencement Exercises.