Commencement Address Ave Maria School of Law: May 13, 2007
Gallagher, Judith C., Ave Maria Law Review
Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all of our mothers here who, with our dads, were vital in our reaching this day. And, of course, our sincere gratitude to the husbands, wives, and children of the graduates for their constant love and support.
Honorable Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Mr. Monaghan, Members of the Board of Governors, Dean Dobranski, our distinguished faculty and administration, family and friends, and the Class of 2007:
In the inaugural issue of the Ave Maria Law Review in 2003, one of the contributors wrote:
It will surprise no one that a necessary precondition to membership in the law professoriate is the conviction that students are wrong on just about everything. That said, however, I think the students who chose Ave Maria over other law school options were right: there is indeed something special about this new experiment in legal education. (1)
And today, before you, these graduates are living proof of the success of this new experiment in legal education. Ave Maria sends forth into the world 123 lawyers who have, for the last three years, been exploring law in ways no other law students were able. We engaged not only in the study of the rule of law, but we were challenged to understand the intellectual, philosophical, and moral foundations that are intimately connected to any legal system. We were challenged as well to strive for our full potential in an educational atmosphere that prides itself on educating the whole person. We graduate having received the training necessary to be lawyers of professional distinction, possessing not only the finest legal research and writing skills and knowledge about civil procedure minimum contacts but, unlike many of our legal counterparts, also being grounded in traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. And more importantly, this school has succeeded because we have grown into a community under Fides et Ratio. (2) Community is what shapes us, and here at Ave Maria we have been shaped in a community of faith and reason, and also of love. This community provided an academically rigorous environment in the Catholic intellectual tradition where we were constantly challenged, both academically and spiritually, and simultaneously loved. We were loved because we were surrounded by people who understand what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.
My dear classmates, having experienced three years of intense study and numerous moments of frustration, anxiety, and stress, today we celebrate the fruits of our labor. Aren't we singularly blessed, that during these years we have been part of a community, although certainly not perfect, but better than anywhere else? We all share a special closeness that arises not only out of our common bond of surviving law school together, but the fact that we have become a community, a family, and have flourished! Many of our classmates found their husbands and wives here: Jerry and Cristy; Adele and JJ; Katie and Augie; John and Erin; Heather and Mitch; Erin and Will; Brian and Nicole; Tom and Diamond; Laura and Dan; and Andrew and Olesia. Others had their babies baptized in our very own chapel, with fellow classmates in attendance, and celebrations afterwards for our community to share in--truly an experience unfathomed elsewhere. We have classmates who became Catholic during our time here, and often were sponsored by fellow classmates. We celebrated our classmates' children's birthdays, played with them, and babysat them. We shared our class outlines with each other, always desiring our fellow classmates' achievements, along with our own. We spent many a night on the deck at the Joes' house or playing lawball at JJ and Jason's. We engaged in philosophical discussions in the hall ways, in our homes, and yes, out at the bars, discussions that may only be engaged in when you share the same basic foundations of thought. And we loved each other. …