You are here: American University Campus Life Spiritual Life Commencement Invocations 2017

Invocation for the College of Arts and Sciences

by Rev. Mark Schaefer, University Chaplain

O Great Mystery,

We have traveled a long road
To bring us to this day.
Here at this crossroads,
at this way station,
we pause to reflect
on the road behind us,
and the road ahead.

We thank you O Lord, Our God, ruler of the universe,
who has granted us life, who has sustained us,
and who has helped us to reach this season, and this point of the journey.

As we pause, we give you thanks
For this moment
For the day and the life-giving rain,
For the celebration of mothers,
and of the gift of life and love.
For the celebration of accomplishment
with family and friends;
For the pomp, the circumstance,
the skirl of the pipes.
For the joy of the day
and the celebration of the moment.

But here, in this moment,
we also look back on the road behind us,
and we give thanks to you,
'God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way…'

For the journey our graduates set out on years ago
For the learning,
the growth,
the openness to new experiences,
new understandings
the faculty who brought instruction,
the staff who supported them in their need
the semesters abroad, the internships downtown
For the friendships, the relationships,
the late nights
the deep conversations,
and the not-so-deep ones
For the times of joy and of sorrow,
of triumph and defeat.

We know that the way has not always been easy,
At times, stony has been the road we trod,'
and our feet became weary.
We have seen tragedy and grief,
Injustice and hate,
Long borne pain, welling up again.
But on that stony road,
we have also found traveling companions
who have borne us up
who have walked together in solidarity,
who have fought for justice,
who have lived out love,
who have embodied compassion,
who have affirmed our common humanity,
and our common journey, together.
This is the ' hope that the present has brought us.'

And so, in that hope, on this day we give thanks
For the road ahead,
For the difference our graduates will make
For the creativity they will offer
For the gifts they will share
For the wisdom they will continue to acquire
For the passion they will bring
For the imagination they will employ
For the fearlessness with which
they will face the future
and the many challenges it will bring
For witness they will make
to justice, to peace,
to inclusive community
For the way they will change the world itself.

And so, O God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
who walks beside us on all the roads of our lives
we pray that in all their journeys
they may continue to be
beacons of hope and promise
to a broken world
a world in need
a world waiting for them.

And let us say: Amen.


Invocation for the School of Communication

by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Muslim Chaplain

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Bism Allah irRahman ir Rahim,

In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful,
O Creator of All Things, Evolver of all things,
Necessary Existent, known by many names,
Who has spoken to all people in all times,
Through an abundance of prophets
Monopolized by no one race or land,
We gratefully acknowledge your presence with us here today.

This day we celebrate the accomplishments
Of the students of the School of Communication who receive their degrees
And now leave the comfortable nest of their alma mater
To move on to new chapters in their lives.
We invoke Your blessings upon them.

We pray that You will strengthen these graduates,
Purify their intentions and grant them the strength
To use the knowledge and skills they have acquired here
In the service of Truth, Harmony, and Wisdom.

For all these graduates, let what they have learned here
Be a resource on which they draw, wherever they may choose to employ their skills,
That in this polarized time when racial bigotry has spread its poison
Into what has been dedicated to be the sanctuary of reason and academic discourse,
Even onto this campus (Forgive us Lord!), dividing us from one another
By a deafening tempest of angry winds and thunderous ignorance,
Let them hear and understand your words in the Qur'an:
"O humankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female,
And made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other
(Not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you
In the sight of God is (the one who is) the most righteous of you."
So, lead them to listen more often than they speak,
That regardless of whether they take up careers of advocacy
Or in the media, that they may be conveyors of nuance.
Let them remain ever aware that the word "communication"
Is derived from a root meaning to make common,
And let them, when they seek to inform,
Be guided by the ancient wisdom of the three questions to ask before speaking,

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Lord, You are the Truth and from you comes the Truth. Hear our prayer!


Invocation for the School of International Service

by Rev. Joey Heath-Mason, United Methodist Chaplain

Empowering One of grace and mercy, we invite your presence into this place today as family, faculty, administrators, community and friends, have come together to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class of 2017 and to hear the petitions of hearts today.

Today we give thanks -

For the sheer magnificence of the mind. By thinking, by the sublime rippling of the muscles of thought, people like DaVinci, Pascal, Bach, Einstein and King have unleashed, not the armies of history, but the power of ideas to change the world. Who knows what lies ahead in the lives of those in this room today?

For the sweet taste of accomplishment. In a world that persistently asks, "What have you done lately?", we are here to celebrate hard work completed and done well. Allow this to be a time of great joy and celebration.

For sacrifices made by others. Most of us have not made it here alone. These significant ones, many of them present today, will walk this stage today in spirit with these graduates.

For the sacrifices made by the graduates themselves. They have shown this dedication through their studies, hours in the library and the many terrace spaces on campus in study groups and group projects, and the all-nighters and turned in at the last moment but on time papers. Through the sweat and tears and shouts of joy in completing we give thanks for what may be the most difficult work they have done to this point in life.

And we ask today for your blessing on these our graduates -

Bless them with passion. Let them move out from this day, not into jobs, but into a calling. Let them live for their passions, their talents, and their gifts, and take every opportunity to put these to good use in creating a better tomorrow.

Bless them with a sense of responsibility. Remind them that they have a contribution to make, to create change and create a better world in whatever places they find themselves. That as graduates they are now a people of privilege charged to use that privilege responsibly and not to the detriment of others.

Bless them with humility. Help them to live not in excessive pride, but in a way that lifts the values of equity and equality of all humanity, that seeks to not lift up oneself alone, but seeks to lift all others as well.

And finally bless them with a legacy. These today will mark the world whether they are trying to or not. Let the shadow of their mark stretch far beyond their liabilities and limitations. Let them know the rich satisfaction, not of merely making a living, but of living a life - full, rich and deep.

For all these things, amen.

Invocation for the Kogod School of Business

by Jason Benkendorf, Jewish Chaplain & Hillel Director

Almighty God, Creator of the universe,

We pause this morning to acknowledge the blessings that have made this special day possible.

We are grateful for the opportunity that these graduates have had to study here at American University. For the classes that have challenged them, the internships that have taught them valuable skills, the late night conversations that have expanded their worldviews.

We are grateful for the community that these graduates found here. God, you teach us that it is not good for human beings to be alone. And, indeed, these graduates have not been alone in this journey. They have shared these years with friends, classmates, devoted faculty and staff, and their experiences have been enriched as a result.

We are grateful that these graduates can celebrate today surrounded by loving family and friends. We recognize the sacrifices that so many of these families have made for their graduates, and we honor them for their selflessness.

God, we thank you for these blessings and so many more.

We know that the journey toward this day has not always been easy. We know, too, that the road ahead will not always be smooth. God, we beseech you: shower your blessings on these talented graduates. Help them to apply the lessons that they have learned here in health and happiness, with humility and generosity, and always in keeping with their highest ideals.

God, go with these graduates, and shine your countenance upon them always.

Praised are you, God, who has sustained us and kept us and allowed us to reach this auspicious day. And let us say, amen.

Invocation for the School of Public Affairs

by Rev. Fr. Carlos Quijano, Catholic Chaplain

[Text coming soon]

Invocation for the Washington College of Law

by Rev. Mark Schaefer, University Chaplain

Blessed are you O Lord, Our God, ruler of the universe,
who has granted us life, who has sustained us,
and who has helped us to reach this season.

In your grace, you have given us the Law
and instilled in our hearts a desire for justice
tempered by mercy.
In pursuit of the knowledge of law these graduates have long labored
(and perhaps long suffered)
and come now to the end of their studies.

We gather this day to celebrate and give thanks:
Thanks for this day and the gift of life;
Thanks for the friends and family who have come
from near and far
Thanks for this University,
for the faculty and staff
for their instruction
their mentoring and guidance
their example and testimony;
And most of all, we give thanks for these graduates:
thanks for the gifts with which you have blessed them;
for the blessing they will be to a world in need.

that in a world of division,
they might be agents of reconciliation;
that in a world of conflict,
they might be agents of peace;
that in a world of injustice
they might be agents of justice;
that in a world of unfairness,
they might be agents of equity;
that in a world where the voices of so many are drowned out
they might with their advocacy amplify those voices;
that in a world in which so many are pushed to the margins,
they might through their work draw all to the center.
that in a world where the shadows of 'the dark past'
have a long and troubling reach,
in which the bitter legacy of racism and hate
continues to leave fresh wounds,
they might shine the light that affirms our
noblest aspirations
and that leads us into the future
with 'the hope that the present has brought us.'
that in a world of rising authoritarianism,
and in a world of rising chaos and disruption
they might be agents of that 'ordered liberty'
that binds your people into a free and just society.

And now, O God, most gracious, most merciful,
O 'God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way'

Grant that the friendships they have made may continue,
even across the miles and the years;
that the lessons they have learned
and the wisdom they have gained
may not fade, but may only increase.
that any anxiety or doubt about the future
may be complemented by a boldness of vision
and a fearlessness in setting forth in hope, and
that in all things,
they may testify to that hope
in a world in need of their witness,
now more than ever.

And let us say: Amen.