You are here: Commencement Invocations 2018

Invocation for the College of Arts and Sciences

by Rev. Mark Schaefer, University Chaplain

O Great Mystery,
'For everything there is a season
and a time for every purpose under the heavens.'

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.

The present season is one in which we pause to reflect
On all that has been, on all that we have seen together:
We have witnessed great change on campus and in our world,
We have gone through times of anxiety,
We have grieved the loss of dear friends and classmates,

We have witnessed assaults on the values we hold most dear,
And we have seen our community
rally to defend those values,
We have seen our brothers and sisters
reach out in solidarity and love,
We have seen our community draw together
in its grief and mutual support,
And we have seen the power of
that commitment to justice,
that commitment to hope,
that commitment to love.
We have seen the best that is our community
Lived out in the lives of those who now stand before us
Robed in blue.

For a season, these graduates were ours
And for that season we give thanks:
for the time they have been able to share with us.
for all those who brought them to us
thanks for the parents, family, and friends,
who nurtured, prepared, and encouraged them;
We give thanks for this University,
for the faculty and staff who taught our graduates
and guided them on their way;
forming and shaping them
for a life of service and responsibility.
Continue, O Holy Spirit, to bless this University community,
its faculty and staff,
that they may continue in its work
of shaping the leaders of your people.
But before these graduates were ours,
they were yours,
and yours they remain.
Grant that in all the seasons of their lives,
in times of joy or tears,
in times of confidence or self-doubt,
of celebration or lament,
of welcome or alienation,
of success or failure,
of knowing or unknowing,
of hope or fear,
They may know that you are with them;
That they are not alone,
That they are bound up together with you
and with one another.

And now, O God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
we pray that in all the seasons of their lives 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 Kogod School of Business

by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Muslim Chaplain

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 Kogod School of Business 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 enable them
To use the knowledge and skills they have acquired here
To bring prosperity to themselves, their communities, this nation, and the world.

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,
Whether in finance or trade, in a major corporation or a startup,
That in these difficult times when the middle class is struggling,
When business is conflated with materialism, marketing with deception,
Lending with usury, and economy with "cutting corners,"
Inspire them to remember that our forefather Abraham was a thriving businessman,
And the Prophet Muhammad's wife Khadijah was a successful businesswoman,
That business can be conducted with spirituality,
That commerce should be a win-win game,
That the entrepreneur's job is to deploy capital in such a way
That the collective wealth increases and that all boats shall be lifted;
Draw them into the ranks of the honest businesspeople that the Prophet Muhammad said
Shall be in the ranks of the martyrs and the prophets on the Day of Judgment.
Save them from the sins of unfair advantage and fraud
And enroll then in the ranks of those who produce wealth
And who spend their profits in doing good works.

Let them hear and understand your words in the Qur'an:
"Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: For truly God has been to you Most Merciful!"

Lord, You are the Beneficent and from you comes Abundance.
Give us the good thing in this life and the next.


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 2018 and to hear the petitions of our hearts.

Today we give thanks -

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. Remind us that these significant ones, many of them present today, will walk this stage in spirit with these graduates.

For the sacrifices made by the graduates themselves. They have shown 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 papers turned in at the last moment but on time. Through the sweat and tears and shouts of joy we give thanks for completing 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 graduates 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 we pray, amen.

Invocation for the School of Public Affairs

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 Communication

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,
     "who executes justice for the oppressed;
          who gives food to the hungry."

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:
     for the gifts with which you have blessed them;
     for the blessing they will be to a world in need.

Help them-
     Indeed help all of us who have taken on the calling of the Law
     To remember the purposes
          for which the Law has been put forth,
          the task to which we have been summoned

On this Festival of Shavuot,
Let us hear the words spoken to us in your Torah:
     "Justice, justice shall you pursue."
and hear the words proclaimed by your prophets:
     to "seek justice, rescue the oppressed,
     defend the orphan, plead for the widow."

On this Pentecost Sunday,
Let us hear the words of One who reminded us
     not to neglect "the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith."

On this Fifth Day of Ramadan
Let us hear the words brought by your Messenger:
     "Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves."

And so, Author of all Righteousness,
     that in a world of injustice
          our graduates might be agents of justice;
     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 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 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.
     that they may work for a world in which
     "justice may roll down like waters
     and righteousness like an everflowing stream."

And now, O God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
Send them forth in love and wisdom,
     with the boldness of vision
          and the fearlessness of hope,
          so 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.