Speech Of His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O’brien Grand Master Of The Equestrian Order Of The Holy Sepulchre

Archbishop Pizzaballa, Your Excellencies……. Honoured Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Graduands…..

Thank you for the kind invitation, and for the generous introduction.

I am enormously privileged to be invited again to this distinguishedUniversityand to say these few words of congratulations at this special Graduation.

I am aware that a University reveals itself not only by its buildings, or byits academic and culturalsuccesses, but by the students it forms,and by those it recognises.

I am here as a representative of the Catholic Church, to show that the Church believes in the profound value of a Christian university in Jordan.  It is a university which will serve each person who enters. Its role is to be fully part of higher education for all the citizens of Jordan.

By any standards the history of this University is brief; but it is already making its mark. Supported by Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, this university has been thought of as a necessary part of Christian education in The Holy Land. Pope Francis is also very keen to see this university thrive. The Catholic Church believes in a system of Christian education that includes this university.

You hear the expression of there being need for“a ladder of opportunity” for people to develop.  In this part of the world, in Jordan, for many years there have been Christian elementary schools and high schools.  These are, as it were, the lower rungs on the ladder. 

To reach heights we need higher rungs… we need progress to a University to reach the higher heights of human development. Those “higher heights” of course include high academic standards.

But the highest reaches of education are not simply about certificates and degrees, and publication of research – important though these are; but about understanding the “full life” and how to live life to the full.  It is here where we see “the educated person” as someone also thinks of others;and who serves others. There is a strong spiritual dimension to our humanity, and that too needs to be nourished in our education.

This is a Universitywhere we wish to see humanity thrive. It is a University where one sees success by raising people to distinction. The Christian view of education is that it is concerned about people, and it is the people who matter.

So, to the faculty, on behalf of The Church, I thank you for your hard work over the year. This often goes unrecognised and I am only too well aware of the great dedication of many in the course of the year.  Be satisfied knowing that the students will remember a limited amount of what you taught, but they will remember you.

And to the students, you are aware that all around in education there is change - and yet the Universityis not a sanctuary of certainty in a world of uncertainty. It is a place of human flourishing. It is a community of living souls striving for truth; striving to make the world a better, safer place by forming minds of peace, justice and love.

I see education as

  • The flourishing of humanity, and not the scramble for certificates.
  • The care of the person, and not trying to just trying to be better than others;
  • The search for truth, goodness and beauty, and not regurgitating old knowledge… that changes almost as it leaves your mouth.

An educated person is someone who holds out their hands to others; who serves and helps others. It is a person who serves, and cares, and gives of themselves.I hope that today, as you enter the world of work and make your way in the world, you will find that these are the ideals gained at the American University of Madaba that will sustain you.

So, take nothing from this place except:

          Nourishment for the soul;

          Inspiration for the mind;

          Love for your heart.

Hold to those values treasured in your heart formed at the American University of Madaba…