Commencement Address - James J. O'Connell, M.D.

College of the Holy Cross

Father Boroughs, trustees, distinguished faculty, my fellow honorary degree recipients, proud parents, family, friends, and especially to all of you, the new graduates of the Class of 2017, I am deeply grateful and humbled by this invitation to address you today. I cannot tell you how proud and astonished we were when Fr. Boroughs came and visited us in Boston at our main clinic and respite care program back in January. We have lived in relatively blissful obscurity for many years, and it was the first time we had a distinguished college president come to visit.  So we thought we had arrived.

Someone once said that commencement speakers would be wise to envision themselves as the body at an Irish wake. They need you in order to have the party, but nobody expects you to say anything. I looked up a few short speeches for you and one of them stood out to me as worthy of note.  It was from Albert Einstein who gave this graduation address: "I do not have any particular thoughts to express today, so I wish you all success in the future." Then he sat down and the students gave him a thunderous standing ovation. So I may risk all and beg your indulgence for next 10 or 15 minutes. I want to celebrate with you something about Holy Cross that has always been really important to me.