Opening Day 2010

Welcome officially to the start of the 2010-2011 academic year. I'd like to begin by thanking S. Margaret Ormond for her inspiring words and thanking our many panelists for setting the right tone for this new year.

Molloy College was founded as a transformational entity: To create a more just and compassionate world - To reframe how we interact with each other.

We do this in two ways:
1. Through the education of our students - preparing them with the knowledge and skills to be successful in their careers and in their lives and----- encouraging them to serve others -- to help, in even small ways to create this new world.
2. By how we act, each of us - by what we do, whether we serve and how we serve - knowing that each encounter with another is an opportunity to do good - an opportunity to reframe the world
Albert Schweitzer once wrote

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
And so, connecting back 55 years to the founding of Molloy College,
150 years to the founding of the Sisters of Amityville
500 years to beginning of the Dominican Mission in the Americas
800 years to the founding of the Dominican Order
This is what we do - we serve and we transform
This year in the common reading program we are reading The Three Cups of Tea.

This book chronicles the journey of an ex-high altitude climber and emergency room nurse Greg Mortenson who quite accidently begins a new life of service constructing schools in the remote parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His odyssey spans more than 15 years beginning in 1993 and continuing today.

For those of you who haven't read the book, I won't spoil it for you - but I want to refer to one specific episode in the book. In September of 2001 - Greg Mortenson was in Pakistan when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Greg himself had seen the buildup of fundamentalist Islamic factions and knew "the Islamic world was awash in crisis." On September 14, Greg found himself at the dedication of the Kuardu School in Northern Pakistan. With the whole town gathered round the school the supreme religious leader of Northern Pakistan, Syed Abbas addressed the crowd.

"It is by fate that Allah, the Almighty has brought us together in this hour....Today is a day that you children will remember forever and tell you children and grandchildren. Today, from the darkness of illiteracy, the light of education shines bright.

We share in the sorrow as people weep and suffer in America today as we inaugurate this school. Those who have committed this evil act against the innocent, the women and children, to create thousands of widows and orphans do not do so in the name of Islam. By the grace of Allah the Almighty may justice be served upon them.

For this tragedy I humbly ask Mr. George and Dr Greg Sahib for their forgiveness....These two Christian men have come halfway around the world to show our Muslim Children the light of education. Why have we not been able to bring education to our children on our own? Fathers and parents, I implore you to dedicate your full effort and commitment to see that all your children are educated. Otherwise they will merely graze like sheep in the field, at the mercy of nature and the world changing so terrifyingly around us...

I request America to look into our hearts.. and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists but good and simple people. Our land is stricken with poverty because we are without education. But today another candle of knowledge has been lit. In the name of Allah the Almighty, may it light our way out of the darkness we find ourselves in...

After the ceremony Kuardu's many widows lined up to offer Mortenson and McGowan their condolences. They pressed eggs into the Americans hands, begging them to carry these tokens of grief to the faraway sisters they longed to comfort themselves, the widows of New York village.
Mortenson looked at the pile of freshly laid eggs trembling in his palms.. [and thought ] walking through the crowd of well wishers [that] everything in the world was fragile." (p 257-258)

The world, indeed is fragile

Peace and tolerance are fragile

Each must be constantly nurtured at every turn within every moment lest injustice and prejudice overwhelm them

The environment is fragile

It needs unwavering support to protect now what could be lost in a moment for ever.

Hopes and dreams are fragile

The cynicism and pessimism that can eat way at future's possibilities must be beaten back.

The number one threat to fragility is ignorance:
Ignorance of consequences
Ignorance of interconnections
Ignorance of complexity
Ignorance of history - of cause and effect
Ignorance of human impact, knowing how a particular decision will impact human beings both within our immediate communities and throughout the world.

If ignorance is the number one threat to the fragility of our world then education is the number one solution. Education is the one great hope. This is the message within The Three Cups of Tea, a message we know so well at Molloy.

At Molloy, we serve, because we know that the world is fragile and needs the attention we bring to its concerns.

We serve - because we believe that these students traveling our halls are the next best hope to hold together our fragile world - that they will dream and become --- that they will serve --- and that, through them we will transform the world.

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