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More Than 200 Receive Degrees at Ave Maria University Commencement

amug3aAve Maria University graduates will face many challenges but perhaps none so tough as being "mentors to pass on the Catholic faith" in an increasingly secularized culture, Cardinal Sean O'Malley said told more than 200 graduates at the school's 12th commencement exercises Saturday.

Recounting experiences of Catholic missionaries, Cardinal O'Malley (left) said that into today's world, the most difficult evangelization challenge lies in the United States. Their education at AMU has prepared them well for this, he said, and "this challenging mission of America in the 21st century is where you will live out your mission."

"We live in a world obsessed by celebrities," the cardinal said but "by contrast, the Church holds up as models the saints.

The valedictory address by Lexie Hammerquist, a biochemistry major who will be attending medical school after graduatioin, echoed part of the cardinal's theme. "Why not spend your life doing something noble," she said. "We have a duty to do the will of God in the present moment." Miss Hammerquist (pictured right) was one amug1aof four valedictorians at AMU this year. The others are Joseph Guernsey, Michael Hays and Colleen Kilpatrick.

A record number of 215 graduates stepped up to the podium to receive bachelor's degrees Saturday. Ten master's degrees and one Ph.D in theology also were conferred, after which graduates filed out of the Tom Golisano field house to the well wishes of friends and family waiting outside in weather that was uncharacteristically pleasant and mild.

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