Catawba Grads Urged to Embrace the Presence of the Holy
May 9, 2009
Catawba College's graduating seniors were told to look inside themselves if they want to find "the Holy and the Sacred." That advice was from College Professor Emeritus of Religion and Philosophy, Dr. J. Daniel Brown, and it was dispensed at the annual Baccalaureate Service held May 8th in Omwake-Dearborn Chapel in campus.
"You will find what you seek ... in yourself. That is where God is — or there is no God," explained Brown, who spent 30 years teaching at Catawba and then founded and now serves as the executive director of the Center for Faith and the Arts in Salisbury. "The HOLY, the Sacred, is in you. It comes to you not with piety, but with truth — truth about yourself."
Urging the students to "set aside time" to "Embrace the PRESENCE ... the presence of the Holy," Brown said that "an organized religion that lays out all your experiences for you, that assumes this is what you need," cannot connect them with God. Only an internal examination of themselves can bring them to that meeting.
"I suggest that you meditate on LIFE — your life. If not in a church or synagogue, then somewhere quiet," he continued. "The notion of a God — is as old as the human race. I speak not of the Fifth Avenue notion of a God ... but of the deity to whom one can turn and find solace.
"If you have found that small thing that triggers the presence of the sacred, you have found a valuable experience. God is not dead unless you choose for God to stay out of your life. The choice is yours."
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Clapp, Catawba's chaplain and senior vice president, introduced Brown as a Renaissance man "who has written and acted in plays, has done some oil painting, has written poetry and has sung in choirs and written hymns." Brown holds degrees from Lenoir-Rhyne College, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and Drew University, and also completed post-graduate work at Duke University.
The Baccalaureate Service brought together graduating seniors from Catawba's traditional day and evening programs along with their friends and families and faculty and staff from the college community. Following the service, the graduates participated in Catawba's traditional Marshal's Walk. Holding lighted candles, lit by faculty members as the exited the Chapel, the graduates were led by College Marshal, Professor David Pulliam, from the Chapel along Oliver's Way, to the exterior of the Robertson College-Community Center. There, they heard messages from several Student Government Association members – outgoing SGA President Katie Hill of Fayetteville, incoming SGA President Kevin Flebbe of Vineland, N.J., and outgoing Senior Class President Megan Spidell of Salisbury - and the College Marshal.
A reception for the students and their families in Peeler Crystal Lounge followed the Baccalaureate Service and the Marshal's Walk.
PHOTOS: 2009 GraduationEvents
- 263 Students Graduate during Catawba College Commencement Exercises ;
- Special Award Recognitions ;
- Retiring Faculty Recognized at Commencement ;
- 2009 Graduates List ;
- Commencement Address ;
- Alpha Chi Spring Induction ;
- Graduation Information