Fred at Saint Vincent College

Fred Rogers Center building  at early evening

 

Fred turned to Latrobe and Saint Vincent College as the appropriate home for his body of work—Latrobe, because it was his first neighborhood, and Saint Vincent because, as he observed in his 1995 address at the Saint Vincent sesquicentennial celebration, “It is a community that majors in hospitality, not to joy, but to suffering, a place and people who make room for their neighbors to hope that there’s more to us than we know—more than we’ll ever know.”

 

Often in demand as a commencement speaker, Fred imparted his wisdom to graduates of Saint Vincent College on May 13, 2000, and reminded students about the importance of those who shape our paths. Fred shared:

One of our family’s great blessings is our life-long friendship with Archabbot Douglas. As you know, Douglas has helped to make a profound difference in the lives of many people and an extraordinary contribution to the life of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Seminary, and College. My hunch is that Boniface Wimmer somehow interceded in the heavenly courts and made sure that that job went to Douglas.

Several years ago, knowing how much I like Saint Exupery’s book, The Little Prince, Douglas gave me a framed piece of calligraphy with a sentence from that book. It reads: L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (What is essential is invisible to the eye.) I feel the closer we get to knowing and living the truth of that sentence, the closer we get to wisdom.

What is essential about you that is invisible to the eye? And who are those who have helped you become who you are today?

Anyone who has ever graduated from a college, anyone who has ever been able to sustain a good work has had at least one person – and often many – who believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without many different investments from others.

So in the midst of this community of Saint Vincent which has always majored in hospitality, my prayer for you is that you will take good care of that part of you – that invisible part of you where your best dreams come from, that part of you that helps you to feel for others… and allows you to appreciate your life and encourages you to bow to your neighbor in that sacred space between grateful hearts. That’s what will matter most in our world.