Message from Cardinal Turkson to the Graduates of St. John’s University

by | May 27, 2017 | News

St. John’s University was blessed to have His Eminence Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as the distinguished speaker at the University’s Queens Campus undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21 at 10:00 am.

“We are humbled and honored that Cardinal Turkson has accepted our invitation to speak to our graduates at this year’s commencement ceremony.” Cardinal Turkson’s tireless work with the sick and homeless around the globe serves as a model for our students to love and respect all individuals and to serve those most in need.  This dedication is at the core of who we are as a Vincentian university, and we are proud to have Cardinal Turkson share his message of social justice and caring for the marginalized with our newest alumni.” – Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s University.

Cardinal Turkson of Ghana, known internationally as one of the most energetic leaders of the Church, was selected by Pope Francis to serve as Prefect of the recently established Dicastery on Promoting Integral Human Development.  The new department, which took effect on January 1, 2017, takes on the tasks of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Healthcare Workers, and Cor Unum – the Papal charity that provides humanitarian assistance and encourages coordination of Catholic charitable works.

Vatican biography of Cardinal Turkson

In his Commencement Address, Cardinal Turkson told graduates and their families that the Mission Statement of St. John’s University “offers six rules of life which we would do well to hold on to as we move from here into the world: truth, love, respect, opportunity, excellence, and service.”

(Full text of his address can be downloaded here: Commencement- New York 20-22 May 2017 Cardinal Peter Turkson)

Cardinal Turkson also discussed individual responsibility for others as he touched upon homelessness on a global scale. “It is a phenomenon which has become global because a pervasive culture of indifference is gradually replacing our sense of neighborliness and belonging as members of the one human family,” he said. “Our incontrovertible belief in the dignity of every human person is fast waning, and sitting in its place an ugly attitude that every life is dispensable, except our own.”

The observations moved listeners. “We live in a world that tells us it’s everyone for themselves,” said JohnAnthony DiMaria ’17CPS, a President’s Society member and the Queens Commencement student speaker. “Through the opportunities St. John’s has given the Class of 2017, we have become the opposite of what the world tells us to be. I am so grateful to have written my story right here at St. John’s University with each of you, my fellow great adventurers.”

The video of Cardinal Turkson’s speech starts at the 1:04:18 mark and ends at the 1:28:20 mark.

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