President David Mulroney Addresses the Class of 2017

At fall commencement last year, Bob Rae reached out to graduates by invoking the song Forever Young, which Bob Dylan wrote for his newborn son and into which he poured all the affection, hope and good wishes of a parent.
Inspired, I added the song to the playlist I listen to in the car, a selection that already included two other Dylan songs. I even thought I might try to bookend Bob Rae’s remarks by today referencing one of my own Dylan selections. I immediately ruled out my favourite, Subterranean Homesick Blues, as being entirely inappropriate, if only for that unfortunate line: “20 years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift.”
Let me assure you, that’s not going to happen.
The other Dylan song on my list is much more suitable, even prophetic. The Times They Are A-Changin’, which Dylan recorded in 1963, is both exhilarating and ominous, depending on whether you are a youthful agent of change—that would be you–or simply in its way.
I’m a baby boomer, and my own life has followed the trajectory of the song. I still feel the optimism of the 1960s, but as I get older, I have to admit that I also feel unsettled, even alarmed, by the extent to which, to borrow from Dylan, the waters around me have grown. Familiar things are being obscured, strange new currents are at work. I sometimes feel myself at sea.
This is your world now: exhilarating and liberating if you let the current take you, but hard to navigate if you have some place definite to go. And if you do intend to navigate, to play a role in your own journey, you will need that open and perpetually curious mind that the university has encouraged you to develop.
It wouldn’t be a St. Mike’s graduation if I didn’t remind you about something else. Saint John Paul II had precisely this mix of challenge and opportunity in mind when, in welcoming the new millennium, he said: “be not afraid,” when he encouraged us to set out confidently, hopefully and faithfully to cast our nets in the deep waters.
The times are indeed a-changing. And you are all uniquely called to respond to those changes with intelligence, with charity and with faith.
Congratulations and may God bless you!