Cardinal Turkson encourages USF graduates to impact society

May 1, 2021

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Highlighted by an encouraging speech from Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, the University of Saint Francis conferred degrees upon 2021 graduates in its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 1 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Cardinal Turkson, Prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told the Class of 2021 (and Class of 2020 graduates in attendance) the importance of making an impact with their lives beyond their professions. Cardinal Turkson made the trip to Fort Wayne specifically to speak at the USF Commencement.

“The truth about making an impact is that impacts are game-changers,” Cardinal Turkson said. “Impacts promote a change for people and situations and because they signal change, impacts also engender hope.”

USF President Rev. Dr. Eric Albert Zimmer presented Cardinal Turkson and two others with honorary degrees (Doctor of Humane Letters) during the Commencement. USF also presented honorary degrees to President Emerita Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, who served 27 years as President before retiring in June 2020, and William G. Niezer, who served 28 years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

USF conferred 715 degrees to 478 undergraduate students, 226 graduate students and 11 doctoral students. The university recognized valedictorian Tommi Andersen and salutatorians Nathan Conder, Bridget Eichman, Rita Eichman, Austin Fisher, Clista Hellwarth, Bailey Matthias, Samantha Rohloff and Jordan Wells.

In his address, Cardinal Turkson referenced Pope Francis’ address to young people from 115 countries last November to celebrate the “Economy of Pope Francis.”

“On that occasion, he said to them, ‘The gravity of the present situation, made all the more evident by the COVID pandemic, demands that a responsible stand be taken by all social actors, all of us, with yourselves in the forefront,’ ” Cardinal Turkson said.

Cardinal Turkson recalled the Pope Francis’ reference to the vision of St. Francis of Assisi, in which the Lord asked him to repair his house which was in ruins. As St. Francis of Assisi was called to rebuild, so are young people today called to shape the “new normal,” Cardinal Turkson said.

“History teaches us that no system or crisis can completely suppress the abilities, ingenuity and creativity that God constantly awakens within us,” Cardinal Turkson said.

He encouraged graduates to “allow hope to flourish in our midst, to bind up wounds, to weave together relationships, to awaken a dawn of hope in a post-COVID world, to learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds and our future, warm hearts and make us rejoice that we studied at the University of Saint Francis.”

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Business and College of Adult and Distance Education. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the university’s business and music technology programs while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis campus experience includes 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships and is recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution. Approximately 2,200 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.

Photos by BFA Commercial Photography