Ukrainian archbishop gives advice as flags fly

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SOUTH BEND – Both hands in the air, Borys Gudziak smiled.

After a few pivots and push-ups, the Archbishop let a soccer ball fly in the sea of ​​dark robes and mortarboards sitting on the pitch at Notre Dame Stadium.

“Landing Jesus!” the archbishop applauded.

Gudziak, the speaker at Notre Dame University’s 177th commencement ceremony, implored graduates on Sunday to learn from the example of Ukrainians: to love generously, to serve others and to respect duty and honor .

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Sharing the story of Valeria and Andriy – a Ukrainian couple who married days before Andriy was killed defending his country – Gudziak told the graduates to live a fearless life.

“These warriors – including students, recent graduates and college professors – teach us the most important lesson,” Gudziak said, “how to live fully, to remain human children of God, even in impossible circumstances.” .

It was a ceremony full of surprises. As the Archbishop took the stage, Notre Dame’s Class of 2022 waved Ukrainian flags in solidarity with Ukrainians who are still fighting for their country’s independence after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion in February.

“Millions of Ukrainians will see you waving these flags today,” Gudziak said at the university. “They will be comforted by your prayers, your love and your commitment the truth. I take my hat off to you.”

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Gudziak was born in the United States to Ukrainian parents who fled their homeland to escape communist rule during World War II. He told the Irish crowd on Sunday that it was always a childhood dream to appear in a Notre Dame arena, even though basketball was his passion.

In 1992, Gudziak moved to his family’s home country to found the Institute of Church History in Lviv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian Archbishop Borys Gudziak tosses a football to graduates during Notre Dame's graduation ceremony Sunday, May 15, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

The archbishop is now president and organizer of the Ukrainian Catholic University, with which Our Lady recently expanded its relationship. Both universities have had visiting scholar programs on each of their campuses for years.

A new partnership expansion beginning next school year will invest $2 million in undergraduate and postgraduate studies to sponsor new research opportunities and provide Ukrainian students with access to Notre Dame’s Global Gateways programs and, as Gudziak said, “to prepare for post-war missions in Ukraine.”

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Gudziak, recipient of the 2019 Notre Dame Award, received an honorary degree during Sunday’s opening ceremony. Other honorary degree recipients included former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former FBI Executive Assistant Director Kathleen McChesney, an expert in combating sexual abuse within the ranks of the Catholic Church.

Environmental activist Sharon Lavigne received the 2022 Laetare Medal and Administrator John W. Jordan received the university’s second Hesburgh-Stephan Medal.

University officials said they plan to confer 3,344 degrees, including 2,066 among undergraduates, throughout the weekend start events.

Among the graduates were valedictorian Devin Diggs and salutatorian Morgan La Sala, who offered a prayer thanking the families, friends, housemates, classmates, professors, rectors and hall staff who helped make the students’ studies possible.

Diggs, a neuroscientist and behavioral scientist from Olathe, Kansas, asked his classmates to think back to a time just a few months ago when Notre Dame Stadium lit up with a new energy.

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In the stadium, the screens lit up with a simple order: “Make some noise!”

“Loud behavior like this is usually only welcome in stadiums or arenas, but today I urge you to keep making noise as we leave Notre Dame,” Diggs said. “We have a responsibility to use the power of our upbringing to stand up for what we believe in, to amplify the voices of those who are unheard, and to support each other as we pursue the passions of our hearts. ”

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Jerome Bettis takes a video as he enters the stadium during the Notre Dame Launch Ceremony on Sunday May 15, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Jérôme Bettis, who is no stranger to the Notre-Dame stadium, spoke briefly before the students raised their caps. The Pro Football Hall of Famer, returning to complete his studies which he started in 1990, spoke about legacy and making a difference in the lives of others.

He also offered an off-the-cuff critique of Gudziak’s opening remarks.

“It was an impressive pass,” Bettis said. “But, this class, we would go for two, as a class of 2022.”

Email South Bend Tribune education reporter Carley Lanich at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @carleylanich.

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