May 19, 2013
St. John’s University’s 143rd Commencement ceremonies saw more
than 3,000 graduates proudly walk across the stage to receive their
degrees this past weekend in Staten Island and Queens. This year’s
ceremonies highlighted the heroic efforts of those New Yorkers who
aided in the SuperStorm Sandy relief efforts.
Congressman Peter T. King (2nd -NY), who led the efforts to
secure federal funding, along with Catholic Charities of New York
were cited for their fine work at the Queens ceremony, and FDNY
Commissioner Sal Cassano was lauded on Saturday in Staten Island
for his department’s heroic efforts. Rev. Patrick J. Griffin,
C.M., Director General of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent
de Paul, served as Commencement Speaker in Staten Island to begin
the weekend ceremonies on Saturday.
Rev. Harrington, C.M., who announced his retirement on May 5
after 24 years as President, presided over both ceremonies and
reminded the 2013 graduates of the unique opportunity they have
ahead of them.
“As I preside as President over my final University
Commencement, I have one simple message for you, our graduates. I
urge you to believe in St. John’s and to believe in yourselves. The
education you have received will enable you to stand shoulder to
shoulder as equals with fellow graduates from some of the most
prestigious universities in our land,” said Rev. Harrington, C.M.
“You are well prepared to forge successful and service-filled
Congressman King (Honorary Doctor of Laws recipient), who served
as Commencement Speaker and Suzanne Halpin(Honorary Doctor of
Letters), Executive Vice President, Rubenstein Communications and
St. John’s double alumnus, also received honorary degrees conferred
by Rev. Harrington, C.M.
“As someone who grew up in New York City, it is truly an honor
to be your Commencement Speaker for this year’s graduation,” said
King to the 2013 graduates (approximately 2,800) on a rainy
afternoon in front of a capacity crowd of over 19,000 on the
University’s Great Lawn. “SuperStorm Sandy was the worst natural
disaster to hit our region in 75 years. Lesser people would have
given up or, even worse, turned against one another looking out
only for themselves – but that was not the spirit of New York and
New Jersey. That is why so many of you (students) donated your time
to volunteer in the relief efforts, and not only did we refuse to
give in; communities came together to the aid of one another.”
Ms. Halpin, former Associate V.P. for External Affairs and
Special Events at St. John’s and now current Board of Trustee,
spoke of the tremendous growth the University has attained since
her days as a student in an interview prior to the ceremony.
“ The University has completely transformed, there’s really no
other words for it, thanks to the leadership of Fr. Harrington and
the great people who work here,” said Halpin. “This is now a global
university. When I first started here, it was a commuter school.
It’s just extraordinary. The quality of the academics and all of
the initiatives that St. John’s has underway now are just
On Saturday, an estimated crowd of more than 2,000 faculty,
administrators, families and friends attended the Staten Island
Commencement, as Rev. Griffin, C.M. spoke of his bond with the
close to 300 Staten Island graduates. He welcomed them as freshman
to the Staten Island campus as former Executive Vice President for
Mission and Branch campuses in 2009. Rev. Griffin, C.M., along with
Commissioner Cassano, received Honorary Doctor of Letters and
Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees, respectively.
“As you finish up this phase of your education at St. John’s, I
am confident that the events of this year have provided you with
another element of your education. The importance of your degrees
must be joined to the development of character and moral fiber
which make us good citizens, reliable neighbors, and faith-filled
individuals,” said Rev. Griffin, C.M.
Commissioner Cassano was humbled by the conferral of his
honorary degree, but accepted on behalf of the FDNY and all who
contributed to the safety and security of the citizens of New
“This honor really belongs to the New York City Fire Department,
for the heroic efforts of the firefighters, our EMT’s and
paramedics who fought heroically during the Storm,” said Cassano, a
native of Staten Island. “I’ve lived here for 40 years and this
honor given by St. John’s, such an honored institute on Staten
Island, is very pleasing to me and my family.”
For more information contact Elizabeth Reilly, Director of Media
Relations, St. John’s University by calling 718.990.5789 or e-mail
inquiries to email@example.com .