By Steve Vivona
St. John's University wrapped up its Commencement season with
ceremonies honoring graduates from the University's School of Law
and Rome Graduate Center.
Hon. P. Kevin Castel '72SVC, '75L, Judge, United States District
Court, Southern District of New York and Patricia McLernon Castel,
Esq. '74Ed, '77L, a member of the University's Board of Trustees,
received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Judge Castel
delivered the commencement address.
During his address Judge Castel observed that as students he and
his wife had a sense that they were receiving a strong legal
education. "But it was only after we entered the profession that we
realized that, thanks to St John's, we had learned more, and could
do more, than many graduates of institutions considered to be
elite. We quickly found that employers, who had no sentimental
attachment to this institution, held this view."
Judge Castel noted that St John's has been an integral part of
his and his wife's lives. "We were married on campus. We met many
of our closest friends here and, in the years that have followed,
we have lived the ups and downs of each other's lives. We laugh
together and reminisce about good times."
While discussing the support he received from his own family
during his time at St. John's Judge Castel reminded graduates how
they are a fulfillment of the dreams of their parents and
grandparents. "You are one of their great accomplishments," he
stressed, adding that it is important to share that sense of
gratitude with them.
In praising the work of outgoing School of Law Dean Joseph
Bellacosa Judge Castel asked graduates to consider how they would
spend their legal career and how important it is to give something
back. "The questions I pose to you are these: If you get a chance
three years from now to quit your job and pursue your dream of
becoming a public defender, will you be open to it? If you have an
opportunity to become an adjunct professor or serve on a charitable
board, will you be ready for it? Can you limit your billable
hours for six months and take on a pro bono client?"
He added, "Your talents must shine beyond the four corners of
your office and shine in the direction of the public
Approximately 280 students received J.D. and LL.M. degrees
during the School of Law Commencement.
The eighth annual Rome Commencement was held July 18 with
approximately 45 students from Italy, the United States and other
nations around the world receiving Master of Arts in International
Relations and Master of Business Administration degrees.
At the ceremony, St. John's University presented several
honorary degrees. Dottor Gianni Letta, Undersecretary to the Prime
Minister of Italy, received the degree of Doctor of Laws. His
Eminence Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, Archivist and Librarian of the
Holy Roman Church received the degree of Doctor of Laws. Prof.ssa
Senatore Rita Levi Montalcini, President of the Fondazione Rita
Levi Montalcini and a Nobel Prize winner, received the degree of
Doctor of Humane Letters.
H.E. Pio Cardinal Laghi, Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for
Catholic Education, attended the event. Also attending the
commencement were the members of the St. John's University Board of
Trustees and the Rome campus Advisory Board.
Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John's University,
gave the Commencement address. "St. John's is proud to continue its
outstanding relationship with the Italian people and offering
American-style business classes in Rome," he said. "For seven years
now, our students have had the distinct advantage of receiving an
education that is truly global."