Stephanie Paulsell (left), interim Pusey Minister at the Memorial Church, gave the invocation, and Katherine O'Dair, dean of students, welcomed the Class of 2023 at the convocation. Photo: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer / Harvard Gazette
Sept. 2, 2019, First-Year Convocation ceremony
Delivered by Stephanie Paulsell, Interim Pusey Minister and Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School.
Good afternoon everyone.
My name is Stephanie Paulsell, and I represent the Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, which is a part of Harvard’s lively religious life. But there are more than forty chaplains on this campus, representing a wide range of communities and religious traditions. I hope you’ve encountered some of them this week. But if there’s someone you hoped to meet but haven’t, please let me know, or any of my colleagues at the Memorial Church. We’d love to help you get connected.
And now, I invite you, if you are willing, to pray with me.
Source and sustainer and cherisher of all,
God all compassionate, all merciful, all wise:
As a new year opens before us,
we give thanks for those who have joined us—students, staff and faculty.
We pray that their questions and commitments will challenge and change us.
We give thanks that this community is never finished, never complete, never closed.
We are painfully aware that not every member of the class of 2023 has arrived on campus,
and we pray that soon the entire class will have assembled.
May we all feel called to lift up narratives that inspire a wider welcome,
calculations that are more inclusive,
forms of community that illuminate the connections between us.
We give thanks for the work ahead,
and we pray for the imagination, humility and audacity we need to do it well.
We pray that we will listen for unexpected resonances
among histories and equations and music and languages,
that we will seek new combinations of words, ideas and practices
that will help the life of the world flourish,
that we will feel the claims of the lives of others on our own.
May our reading and our writing,
our numbering and our interpreting,
our conversation and our arguments
be for us ways of loving the world.
May our life together take its shape this year
from our deepest questions, our fiercest hopes.
In all of your beautiful names we pray,