Archbishop of Manila, Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass for Graduates


[dropcaps]A[/dropcaps]ngelic voices echoed throughout the sparkling gold domes, and the smell of rustic incense permeated through the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the United States. But today’s mass is not the regular.

Celebrating the graduating class of 2014, students from the Catholic University of America walked in a progression to begin today’s Baccalaureate Mass. The historic arches, groin vaults, and the Romanesque-Byzantine structure are all too familiar to them. The traditional songs and chants recall the memories from the past four years, all of which are planted deeply and engraved in their hearts. The quiet whispers fill the air with both excitement and anxiety for they know that today, though seemingly ordinary to the naked eye, signifies a moment in time that will be relived for years to come.

basilica church mass for graduates
Great Upper Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Seats fill quickly as family and friends reserve entire pews for their loved ones, following the rule of first come, first serve basis. But the space is not enough as mothers, uncles, and siblings line against the massive, thick walls. Today’s mass not only congratulates the graduating seniors but also welcomes a special guest of honor.

Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, has flown in from the Philippines to speak to the graduating class. “There’s a buzz in the Filipino community. We see people who aren’t necessarily students but are coming for this event,” senior Nicholas Shields said. “It shows the universal church and how mass can be celebrated all over the world.”

As the ministers of the liturgy enter in a long procession, the acoustics of the organ and trumpet encompass this holy place. The graceful movements of white robes dipped in red and gold flow side to side as the principal concelebrants follow immediately after the graduating class takes their seats.

mass at the basilica
Proud professors look on with joy as their students are honored at the Baccalaureate service.

The artistic, mosaic depictions of Jesus and the disciples mirror the religious ceremony about to take place as the stained glass windows allow just enough lighting for all to partake and witness worship.

Verses from John 14:1-6 from the Bible are read aloud before Cardinal Tagle takes his stand to address the audience. Reminded to be good stewards and citizens of the world, the crowd responds in Amens. With a contagious smile, Cardinal Tagle addresses the farewell discourse of Jesus. He assures the students that the disciples had a reason for their strength. “Have no fear,” Cardinal Tagle said. “Do not allow your hearts to be troubled. But you look troubled.”

Laughter resonates throughout the church as students exchange glances with their fellow classmates. He states obvious reasons for those worried looks: money, job, and uncertainty.

His honesty and charisma display his character, not so much as a cardinal but as a human being. He speaks plainly telling students that they may find themselves in a place of the sick and the dying. Some may find themselves in banks or religious life. Others may find themselves in places of service.

Regardless of that place that God brings you to, Cardinal Tagle emphasizes on the importance of trying to seek it as a place prepared by God. “Seek righteousness. Live by compassion and love,” Cardinal Tagle replied. “Witness to Jesus, the Risen One. Witness that life is beautiful and worth living.”

Commencement exercises of the Catholic University of America will take place on May 17th, with the main ceremony at 10:00AM at the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. For a schedule of the distribution of diplomas, visit

22 thoughts on “Archbishop of Manila, Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass for Graduates”

  1. Wow! Bakit ngayon ko lang ito nalaman? I’m such a proud filipino lalo dahil kay Archbishop Tagle. He remains an inspiration to a lot of filipinos lalo na dito sa states. Nabasa ko yung bio nya at napaka humble beginnings nya pero namoninate pa rin sya to be the next pope! I wish I can have a chance to see and greet him. Sigurado ako it will be one of my most memorable moment ng buhay ko. More power to archbishop tagle proud po kaming mga pinoy dahil sa example nyo!

    1. My cousin also attended this mass in d.c.! she’s probably one of the people in the community that Nicholas was talking about– and she was super excited for today! congrats to the class of 2014!

      1. oh, God bless! my tita was there! she called me right after to share with me how amazing it was! congratulations class of 2014!

  2. Billymarks451

    being a catholic myself, it takes a lot for archbishops to travel around like that, especially from the philippines… what a good time it must have been for everyone there. i’m very inspired by his role and representation of the catholic community with all the issues going on in the world

    1. I am not catholic but a lot of my family is, and I still agree with you! Kind of like how many people like the dalai lama, even though they may not be Buddhist or even religious. It’s just a feeling you get I guess — a good feeling!

    2. congrats to the class of 2014! looks like most of the commenters are from the same filipino community!

  3. Such an honor being there. My family loves Cardinal Tagle! Thank you for always touching and inspiring our hearts…

  4. Beautiful scene, just beautiful. And look at the Pinoy community coming together! What a great moment to share, and lucky them, getting to see Cardinal Tagle and hear his words.

  5. cardinal tagle is quite an amazing person, big fan of what he does. congrats class of 2014! best wishes to you!

  6. I think it’s cool that he traveled back to D.C. to the school he once attended. I saw a video about him when he received his title of Cardinal and reminded me of one of my Uncles, always having a humble face :).
    He said something like, ‘when you’re before a great mystery, you know it is beyond you, a calling that makes you tremble but also makes you feel happy’ I think that is also another reason why a lot of people especially youth can relate to him. We all know that feeling. I wonder if he will visit the west coast..!!

    1. David_loves_to_surf

      Heard the same thing on NPR… so much goes on inside the Catholic Church and most of it is behind the scenes where no one can see it. Big props to Collins for coming forward. As a survivor of clergy sexual abuse she has the power to help so many who are probably too afraid to say anything negative about the church, a “holy place.”

      1. haleyandtheuniverse

        @jocelyn_whsh and @david_loves_to_surf: …yes there may be signs of corruption, but what organizations are perfect? No one is perfect, which is why it’s so refreshing when we have people who can truly represent their beliefs and background. it gives a little bit more hope for humanity, no?

        1. I think that if there is an organization that should be “perfect” it should be the church that is claiming God is with them. Even if people aren’t perfect, there should not be the kind of corruption that is seen in the catholic church. Anyone who was really on God’s side wouldn’t let the some of the things happen that have happened in the catholic church. Especially if you look back at their entire history.

  7. @jocelyn_whsh: It is true that there is still many wrongs that have to be resolved, but it is commendable that Pope Francis has selected a clergy sexual abuse survivor to spearhead this new commission. I anticipate what Archbishop Tagle will accomplish, he is starting initiatives like the internet project to address the sexual abuse crises in Asia, where non-celibate priests have been taking mistresses. At least there is progress being made…

    1. StellaNBrandonRichman

      @Rachel, thank you for sharing! I hadnt known about the initiatives the Archbishop is doing via internet… Its true, we humans live in a world wrought with corruption and deception, so much so that many can take one step outside their doors and lose hope… but its people like Archbishop Tagle, the attention they draw, and the actions they take for a better tomorrow that do always restore my hope and anticipation for a kinder species of humans. I know we have it in us. I know God in heaven wills it for us. Now we just have to join hands and find it for ourselves, repairing one issue at a time. God bless you all, I am praying for all of us!

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