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Prioress Pat Twohill, OP, Addresses Ohio Dominican University Class of 2024

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Sister Pat Twohill, OP, addresses Ohio Dominican graduates,
May 4, 2024.

Good morning, graduates! I am delighted to add my congratulations to those already expressed to you today by so many.

It is an honor for me to stand before you today. I am in such good company.

Look around you. See so many of your loved ones here. See also your dedicated faculty, hardworking administration and staff, and our loyal and committed Trustees. We all feel so much pride in your accomplishments.

You stand in a long line of scholars spanning 113 years who have graced these hallowed halls. Like those who have gone before you, you now stand poised to take your leave prepared to go forth and make a positive difference for others.

Think back to when you first began classes. It seems so long ago now. Remember, you even survived a pandemic!

Recall your feelings when you first started at ODU—there was excitement, anxiety, perhaps some trepidation. You wondered, “Will I succeed? Will I fail? Will I drop out?”

What are you feeling today--- as you anticipate embracing this new beginning that stretches before you. Yes, a new BEGINNING—That’s why we call this day “Commencement.”

Even as you leave the known and the familiar, I pray you will always treasure your unique Ohio Dominican memories – why, not every University has rumors of its own Sansbury Hall Ghost! Or has a reputation for being a place where you can feel like you really belong—where the place feels like “a home away from home.” You have made important friendships here that will stand the test of time.

As you get ready to leave, remember the good advice and guidance of your coaches and professors. They, and many others here at ODU, have handed on to you, knowledge, and wisdom. They have challenged you academically -- and empowered you to use your God-given gifts for others.  It’s time to pay it forward now. You are READY to COMMENCE!

As you know, ODU is mission-driven. This Catholic University values—Life and Truth, Holiness and Grace, Justice, Love and Peace. Imbued with these principles, you are invited now to apply them in your everyday lives.

Our post-modern culture, shaped by so many forces-- artificial intelligence, social media, and future technologies not yet imagined, provides a unique context for moral decision-making that will require your witness.  At ODU you have further developed your intellectual, moral, and faith-filled compass. This compass will guide you now your whole life long. You are READY to COMMENCE.

In our world of texting and TikTok, when too many resort to a “me and my cell phone relationship” alone, ODU has taught you to be counter-cultural, to ask curious questions of others, and most importantly---to engage others face to face, to have authentic conversations about serious matters with your peers and mentors. 

You have learned that while not easy, it is not weakness to reveal your insecurities, to share awkward issues, or to acknowledge your mistakes. This approach strengthens you. It builds character.

Why is character important? Because as contemporary writer and thinker, David Brooks says, “As important as will, reason, and compassion…(these) are not strong enough alone to consistently defeat selfishness, lack of confidence, and self-deception.”  Character matters and you have it.

Sisters Pat Twohill, OP, Gemma Doll, OP, and Anne Lythgoe, OP, process from the
stage at the Ohio Dominican University commencement ceremony.

While ODU is similar to other Universities, it is also quite unique.  And, because of that uniqueness, you actually have a bit of an advantage.  Many of your peers from other institutions, who have been offered the same rigorous intellectual preparation as you, have sadly been schooled in the “NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT” approach to challenges. Not encouraged to recognize or admit genuine nervousness, or insecurity, these individuals pretend --and consequently go through life feeling like imposters, carrying as they go a lot of inner anxiety.

Not you. At ODU you have learned not only to think critically; to communicate clearly and confidently, to collaborate, but also to authentically express your true thoughts and feelings. Therefore, who you are, and what you say, has an authentic ring to it. When you are authentically yourself, you are free. You will bring this authenticity with you into your personal relationships and into the workplace, and in so doing, taste happiness.

David Brooks says, “About once a month I run across a person who radiates inner light.  These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good.  They listen well.  They make you feel funny and valued.”

Do you know anyone like that? Such persons often look out for others. He says, “Their laugh is musical, and their manner is infused with gratitude.  They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing.  They are not thinking about themselves at all.” People like this light up the whole room.

YOU are invited to be that person, and to bear that inner light!

Ask yourself now, “Who WILL I be in the future? What WILL I achieve? I have no doubt you will achieve career success.

Will you also achieve “generosity of spirit, and depth of character?”

Called as you are to live a virtuous life, think for a minute about what are referred to as Résumé Virtues and Eulogy Virtues. Brooks says, “The Résumé Virtues are the ones you bring to the marketplace. The Eulogy Virtues are the ones talked about at your funeral—whether you were kind, brave, honest, or faithful.” Whether you were capable of deep love?

Here at ODU, you have been continually invited to deepen both sets of virtues. Now, bearing that inner LIGHT- You are READY to COMMENCE!

Keep asking yourself in the days and months that follow graduation, “How will I match my intrinsic gifts with the world’s deepest needs? Who am I today? And who will I choose to be tomorrow?”

Catholic and Dominican, ODU knows who she is, and what she stands for, and because ODU’s identity is clear, persons of all backgrounds, just like you have found a home here—have gleaned strength here.

No matter your own faith tradition--steeped in ODU’s Catholic and Dominican tradition, you graduate today with a firm foundation upon which to articulate your own principled framework for living and decision making.

Graduates, you are ready to commence. 

You are pioneering souls, carrying the spirit of all who have shaped this University for 113 years.  A new path, a new road stretches before you today.  As you take to the road…

  • remember what it says on the wall below us here---“Contemplate, and share with others the fruits of your contemplation.”
  • And as you thirst for Truth, quench it with the values and principles you have imbibed here. Peacefully and confidently stand up for what you believe and unite your heart and soul to Truth with a capital “T”—who is our loving God.
  • And remember to unite your ‘Panther Passion,’ with your ‘Passion for Peace’ which is God’s passion too. Our world desperately needs it.

Poet Jan Richardson speaks to your reality today. She says,

A new path beckons…
If you could see
The journey whole
you might never
undertake it;
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from this place
you have known
to the place
you know not.
Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that (YOU) see the road before you
only by stages
as it opens
before (YOU),

  • (Simply) be faithful to that next step;
  • rely on more than a map;
  • heed the signposts of intuition and dreams;
  • follow the star that only you will recognize;

each choice you make creates
the road
that will take you
to that place where at last
you will kneel
to offer
the gift
most needed -
the gift that only you
can give…

adapted from Jan Richardson

My dear Graduates, your ODU star shines brightly in the sky to guide you—no total eclipse of your sun is allowed!
God has been with you and is with you now. Follow your heart and your dreams and carry forward that Inner Light.
Now, you COMMENCE!

3 thoughts on “Prioress Pat Twohill, OP, Addresses Ohio Dominican University Class of 2024

  1. Dear Sr. Pat,
    So grateful to read your Address to the Ohio Dominican graduates. I made a copy to send to my grand niece who just graduated from a University in New Jersey. She is now working at the University to get enough money to begin her Masters Program. I think she will appreciate the many values you shared so clearly. You said it all so well, Sr. Pat.
    Blessings in all the ways you shine the light of the Spirit. Your sisters are so proud of you,
    Sr. Brigid

  2. Dear Pat,

    A wonderful articulate and heart-felt address to this year’s graduating class. As always, the Pat Panache is there as is the Dominican traditions and four pillars. Thank you for your words and for you.
    In peace,
    Paul H. Colloton, OSFS/OPA

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