Harvard Valedictorian’s gives address in Latin, enters religious life

A young lady who was the Valedictorian at Harvard, Mary Anne Marks, has entered religious life with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

You’ll notice that she didn’t join the Liberated Community of the Expanding Cosmic Consciousness Egg or the Women Who Have Moved Beyond Jesus or even the Nuns on the Bus or any of the other LCWR type groups. Nope. She went for some real nuns.

Here is a video of her address at commencement … in Latin.

The Classical pronunciation takes me back to my own days of first and advanced Latin studies.

She did pretty well! And it was also a good thing to see someone give a memorized address.

Kathryn Jean Lopez has an interview with her HERE.

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39 Responses to Harvard Valedictorian’s gives address in Latin, enters religious life

  1. Wiktor says:

    if not for that strooong American accent.. ;-) [I look forward to a video of you delivering your perfect Latin discourse from memory.]

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Bene dicta. In every sense of the phrase.

  3. Spade says:

    On page 5 of the interview, where the interviewer asks about resources for other ladies who are considering such a life but don’t know where to start, it is telling who Ms. Marks mentions as a starting point and who she does not.

    Spoiler Alert: It’s the CMSWR that she points to.

  4. It might interest readers to know that the Harvard (and Princeton) graduation always includes a Latin greeting address by one of the students. It is usually given by the best Classics major.

    I wonder if there are any other schools that still do this. My Alma Mater, the Johns Hopkins University dropped it in the 1950s.

    Very nice interview as well.

  5. jlmorrell says:

    This is great! If I recall, this was a couple years ago, but still good for people to know about.

  6. Joe in Canada says:

    Puellam de Queens excipire potes, sed Queens ex puella non capax est.

  7. Sr. Maria Veritas is currently completing her MA down here at Ave Maria University; she is both a wonderful personality and a bright scholar. We are very blessed to have her (and the rest of the Dominican sisters) as part of our community.

  8. acricketchirps says:

    Has Harvard instituted safeguards to prevent this sort of thing from happening in future?

  9. samgr says:

    At Princeton, the grads get a script with “Hic plaudite” indicated, so they can clap as if they understood Latin. Much of the PU education seems to be like that.

  10. samgr says:

    They’re told, “Hic ridite,” too.

  11. frjim4321 says:

    A few observations:

    (1) This is apparently from 2010. [So what?] Do we know if she stayed in the order? [So what? She at least tried. Have lots of vocations at your parish?] I hear their attrition rate is fairly high. [And?] And the treatment rate in Philly is not insignificant. I saw the post from accidental above but it was not entirely clear that that referred to this student. I would expect a Harvard grad would seek further studies from an more highly esteemed institution than AMU.[Condescending.] And if she is brilliant, and graduated from Harvard in 2010, why is she still working on her masters in December, 2014? Something is not computing here. [Maybe she’s working?]

    (2) “She went for some real nuns.” First, the order that was mentioned is not cloistered, so the members aren’t technically “nuns,” [So what?] and second, this statement is an insult to thousands of women who have given their entire lives in service to the church. [So what?]

    (3) If the post from accidental is about this woman it seems that the order imposed a name upon her that is different from her baptismal name. From what I have seen it’s not the archaic “habit” that most distinguishes the retrograde [They scare you, don’t they.] orders of religious women from the V2 reformed orders, it’s rather the demeaning practice of having their baptismal names taken away and replaced by a “name” chosen by another person. [Something about humility, I guess.] The theft of identity [HA HA HA HA! Identity theft? Nice try.] with respect to name changing seems far more insidious [Wow. They do scare you.] to me than does the imposition of a uniform. After all, even the Amish have a “uniform,” but nobody ever takes their names away. [DING DING DING! Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! An he uses the A word! Nice try to derail this.]

    (4) All that said, if this person is still in this retro order I do wish her health and happiness. To me it does not seem like a very desirable existence, but maybe it meets her needs. [Don’t become a nun. Or… do… with one of the LCWR groups. They’re becoming more inclusive!]

  12. GAK says:

    frjim4321 – I think it’s weird that you spent 4 paragraphs speculating about this sister and didn’t just Google her to find out if she stayed, etc. She comes right up.

    http://themichigancatholic.com/2014/11/thanksgiving-is-truly-at-the-heart-of-our-faith/

    Still a sister. Same order.

    http://www.avemaria.edu/CurrentStudents/ctl/Details/Mid/2721/ItemID/835.aspx?ContainerSrc=%5BG%5DContainers/AveMaria/GrayBoxWithTitle&SkinSrc=%5BG%5DSkins/AveMaria/ThreeColumn-NoRail

    http://www.altfemmag.com/?p=361

    I would imagine she doesn’t give her graduate degree 100% of her time & attention.

    I found that info in less than 60 seconds online.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    “So what? She at least tried.”

    That’s fair.

    The comment was less about her and more about the attrition rates of the retro orders.

    ” [Wow. They do scare you.]”

    I don’t see them posing much of a threat to me. Basically I do the hiring so I don’t imagine that I would ever have to work with one.

    “[Condescending.] “

    Surely I would be the first here.

  14. Aegidius says:

    Wow, Fr. Jim. Calm down, get on your knees, look up at a crucifix, think of what you have posted, strike your breast, repent and –
    do what you have to do. First apologize to this devout, educated nun.
    Be not afraid, Jesus loves you, too.

  15. j says:

    In addition to completing her vows, and pursuing degrees, Sr. Maria Veritas Marks also has become a regular contributor to the paper of the Diocese of Detroit. A fruitful and blessed Vocation, not yet 4 years old.
    http://themichigancatholic.com/author/sr-maria-veritas-marks-op/

  16. GAK says:

    Also, it’s not called “attrition” when women join an order and leave before final vows. That’s called healthy & solid discernment.

    Any order as big as hers is should have a certain percentage coming and going among the discerning ranks. That’s normal.

  17. Kerry says:

    Just today, about three hours ago, my Amish friend and two of his sons cut up more elm and walnut logs into 2″ slabs for my chairs. (Hint: pictures at the blog.) They were not in uniform. They are widely liked and admired in these parts; they are very hard workers, industrious, humble. They wear and live their beliefs. So, just “Take ‘er easy there pilgrim!”

  18. FrJim:

    When you join an order like the Dominicans, they tell you where to go to school, if they send you to school at all. Furthermore, Ave Maria may be new on the scene, but from personal experience (received my MA here, currently working on my PhD), it’s one of the most faithfully Catholic and intellectually rigorous programs in the nation.

    I suppose it helps to have world-class faculty like Fr. Matthew Lamb (at Vatican II, taught at Marquette and BC for 30 years), Dr. Steven Long (Corresponding Academician of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas), and Dr. Michael Waldstein (founder of the ITI in Austria). Ave has also placed every single one of it’s PhD grads in university positions…

  19. Gail F says:

    Fr. Jim: Dominican novices (male) from the east spend their first novitiate year in my diocese. There are a lot of them and they don’t seem to find that having their names chosen for them is “stealing their identities.” I suppose anyone who thought that way would not join the Dominicans, or the other orders that do the same. Personally, I think it sounds exciting and romantic to have a new name… but then, I also didn’t have a problem changing my last name when I got married AND I chose a saint name for my (adult) confirmation although my pastor urged me not to. I didn’t chose my given name, and I don’t have a problem with that either. May I suggest that it’s a custom one either likes or doesn’t like, not a moral point?

  20. Michael_Thoma says:

    Wow, Fr. Jim. Quite disgusted by your rant and insinuations about people you’ve never met or spoken to, and about customs slightly different from what you are used to.

    Although I normally don’t agree with most of your leanings, I did appreciate your sincerity and openness. However, this last 4 paragraph rant of yours was not only mean spirited and libelous, it was dictatorial and tyrannical in its insistence to stamp out any custom not to your liking.

    Just for your information, the tradition of letting the old self go and having the new name chosen is common for all Eastern Christians (Catholic and Orthodox), when they are made monks, deacons, priests, or bishop. The same Tradition exists when your own Pope and any Patriarch or Catholicoi is elected, although the final decision is his alone on which name he will accept. Would you consider Jorge Bergoglio’s identity stolen? What about the identity of His Eminent Beatitude Catholicos Baselios Cardinal Cleemis? How about His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius Joseph? Or His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II? Was His Beatitude Patriarch Boutros Bechara Cardinal al-Rahi also robbed of his identity?

    It seems to me you want to strip these men and women of their identity, their ecclesiastic Traditions, and their Church’s timeless practices just to appease your skewed thinking based on nothing more than an uneducated whim. Not only this, you have stated you’d never hire any of them should you ever be placed in a position of power based on this practice alone.

    Kim Jong Il would have been proud to have you for a son. Good lord.

  21. Mr. Green says:

    Fr. Jim: it’s rather the demeaning practice of having their baptismal names taken away and replaced by a “name” chosen by another person. The theft of identity with respect to name changing seems far more insidious

    I don’t understand this at all. We all get our names from another person; nor does one’s name constitute one’s identity. And her old name hasn’t gone anywhere, she’s has a new name added on top of it. That happens sometimes when people make an important change to their station in life… If it’s good enough for “Abraham” or “Paul”, I guess it’s good enough for the rest of us.

  22. BobP says:

    Well done and well delivered.

  23. chen2 says:

    Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says: “It might interest readers to know that the Harvard (and Princeton) graduation always includes a Latin greeting address by one of the students. It is usually given by the best Classics major. I wonder if there are any other schools that still do this.”

    My alma mater, The University of the South (Sewanee), still does this.

  24. jflare says:

    “… if this person is still in this retro order…”

    You know, fr jim, I wound up gritting my teeth through all your comments, but this one actually got me pissed off for several minutes.
    I am REALLY getting tired of hearing about how Vatican II, the Novus Ordo, and “new ideas” or whatever have freed us from the “bad old days” of the Church.
    If you see this young ladies order as “retro”, I must warn you that I find myself hoping that the more “modern-minded” orders, those similar to LCWR in particular, will wind up being essentially radar blips on the timeline. Effectively a set of ideas that were tried, but failed badly.

    Granted, I may be a bit biased in this matter because I have worn uniforms of various sorts for several years. Whether as a Boy Scout, a military officer, a pizza store manager, or an altar server, I’ve learned many things about how a person’s attitudes and behavior may be appropriately adjusted by the the uniform. If we can both be concerned about burying a person too much in a uniform straightjacket, I might comment that I’ve met very few people who dressed more casually who didn’t also treat other matters too lightly.
    So too goes it with the orders of nuns.
    We need for our nuns, our sisters, our brothers (monks), our priests to stick out and not be like the rest of society around them. They’ve been called to special purposes in the service of God, we should be eagerly seeking these people and the example they give. That we do not do so often is..tragic, to say the least.

    ….and if many of the audience at Harvard still have no idea what she said during her address, well, now they’ve got a challenge to learn Latin so that they will.
    It’d be great if numerous other schools would be bothered to offer the same challenge!

  25. Imrahil says:

    I was under the impression that monks and nuns choose their name for themselves. (Though many orders have it that way that anyone takes the name Mary as first name, so that it will be abbreviated to a “M.” and they are going to be called by their second name.)

    I personally find awkward the idea of a “Sr. (M.) Joseph” – she would be called, and written, “Sr. (M.) Josephine” around here, even if her patron is St. Joseph all right and not St. Josephine Bakhita. But then, other countries, other customs. Others might quite probably find awkward our own custom of calling male laymen “Mary” (only as a second, not as the first or only, given name of course).

    The getting a new name, at any rate, has to do with starting a new life, and yes, giving up one’s identity. That’s the kind of thing not binding on any Christian – except in a remote and figurative way – but quite appropriate for the special vocation of giving up all for God.

    For another thing, I never could understand nor can I why someone would want to become a nun in the first place, but do not want to put on nun’s clothing in the second. It seems like wanting to become a soldier, but not put on a uniform. [And frankly, even such soldiers which did not want to become ones, in countries with conscription, are regularly at least somewhat proud of wearing their uniform, but I digress.]

  26. johndunk says:

    I missed this till this morning. There’s a precedent. My son gave that address in ’97. Now he’s an unusual Jesuit.

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    To me it does not seem like a very desirable existence, but maybe it meets her needs.

    Her needs???

    The Chicken

  28. RAve says:

    She is a beautiful person and I am privileged to know her as a friend.
    Her Religious name is a delightful irony: http://avemarialiving.com/2014/02/03/did-you-hear-the-one-about-harvard-st-dominic-and-ave-maria/

  29. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Ave has also placed every single one of it’s PhD grads in university positions…”

    Hmmm…I’ve also heard that statistic, but I am a little bit wary of accepting it without qualification. I don’t currently teaching in a university music department, but my qualifications are as good, if not better, than most of the faculty listed at Ave Maria. I could apply for a faculty position and have a reasonable chance of being interviewed. Of course, Ave Maria does not offer a Ph.D in music or a D.M.A., so I cannot compare how hard it would be to place such a graduate in a university position when in competition with 300 other applicants. They, also, have no hard science advanced degrees, so I can’t speak to that, either. They have a few doctoral programs, mostly in theology or ministry-related areas (and maybe, business?), but the number of students produced, per year, across the country in those subjects is very small, so there is a restricted population from which to recruit. Ave Maria is a good school, but don’t oversell it.

    I know a young biochemist who got his undergraduate degree from Columbia, his Ph.D from Princeton, and did his postdoc at Harvard (I may have the order of schools mixed up) and still could not find a tenure-track position. It is rough out there in academia. Gone are the easy 1970’s and early 1980’s. Many universities in the sciences expect to see 50 (yes, that’s right) published papers on a vita before they will even consider looking at you. Many universities have switched to a business model and are trying to kill tenure, altogether, except for a few prestige spots. We aren’t there, yet, but if we keep importing cheap labor from overseas, it might be here, soon.

    If you want a sure job as a professor in academia, invent your own field. Of course, it has to look, “relevant.” I could, probably get a job in humor research, but there are only three programs in the world and I ain’t moving to Bulgaria.

    The Chicken

  30. jaykay says:

    Fr. Augustine Thompson asks if any other colleges do this. Here in Ireland Trinity College Dublin does, except that the addresses are delivered not by a student but by the College’s Public Orator, who is currently Dr. Anna Chahouda, Head of the Classics Department:

    https://www.tcd.ie/Classics/staff/chahouda.php

    I think having a student deliver the address is a great idea, though. Although I did study Classics, inter alia, as part of my degree I didn’t go to Trinity, so I don’t know whether they might, on occasion, have a student step in for the Public Orator.

    Oxford and Cambridge Universities also have a Public Orator.

  31. Fr_Sotelo says:

    John Dunk:

    My uncle, may he rest in peace, was a priest of the Society of Jesus. While I crack Jesuit jokes all the time, I know that some of our brightest and best have made their vows as sons of St. Ignatius. Thank you for your son, a shining star at Harvard, and now a priest of Jesus Christ. I’m sure you must be very proud of him and of his placing his talents at the service of Christ’s Church.

    Fr. Z, thank you for this story. It is so inspiring to read of people like John Dunk’s son, and Mary Anne Marks. For these young people to have the best of a Harvard education, and then to turn around and give these gifts to Jesus in Holy Orders and in vows as a bride of Christ, warms my heart with gratitude to God. We beg God for miracles of religious calling in the present generation, and then do not fall on our knees and praise Him when they happen before our very eyes.

    Fr. Jim, I don’t know about you, but as I see it, if John Dunk’s son and Mary Anne Marks now have the joy of serving the Church, as a priest and vowed religious, giving up academic prestige is not too much for Jesus our Lord to ask, in my opinion. Or wearing a habit, or making a name change, for that matter, is that big a deal. Priests and religious who love the Lord Jesus and are His cooperators in the care of souls receive much more in exchange for whatever they sacrifice. Might I suggest to you, in response to your remarks about Mary Anne Marks’ new life as a sister, that you meditate on this question of Peter in the Gospels: “Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27). And then meditate on the response of the Lord. Maybe that will help you to understand her religious calling and her sacrifices in a new light and a different attitude.

  32. Charlotte Allen says:

    @Wiktor:

    We don’t really know how the ancient Romans pronounced Latin. The “classical” pronunciation that Mary Anne Marks used (hard c’s and g’s always, “v” pronounced like “w”) is at best an educated guess, dating from efforts of philologists of the late nineteenth century. Before then, and going back to the Middle Ages, people pronounced Latin the way they pronounced their native languages. Italians pronounced the soft “c” like “ch,” while the French pronounced it like “s.” English speakers pronounced Latin as though it were English–hence our way to this day of pronouncing “habeas corpus” or “corpus delicti.” So Marks’s “American” accent is about as authentic as anyone else’s.

  33. Theodorus says:

    That Jim4321 person surely is the Sour Grapes Award winner of the day!

  34. jflare says:

    Hmm. Columbia, Princeton, Harvard….Ave Maria.
    Heck, just for fun, why not throw in Yale and Brown too?
    It’s good that we should wish to ensure that Ave Maria succeeds in providing a worthwhile education to students, but I think we need to keep things in perspective. If we wish to emphasize that Ave Maria U doesn’t offer various hard sciences programs or have exclusively PhD faculty, we should also remember that Ave Maria U..didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago. If we’re concerned that Ivy League schools have much more developed programs, we should remember that these well-developed programs didn’t exist for some time after each school’s founding. Many people then likely wondered why anyone would send their sons to Harvard or Yale, not to Oxford or Edinburgh. Those would’ve been the well-established and credible schools at the time.

    Shoot! Let’s not forget that Ave Maria must also compete with Georgetown, Notre Dame, Marquette, Loyola University and others too. ..Creighton ultimately comes to mind…..
    These schools are not precisely slouches either. If I’m surprised by anything, it’s the notion that Ave Maria U has become as capable as they have in such a short time.

  35. CruceSignati says:

    I started taking a Latin class in September, and I am being taught to use ecclesiastical pronunciation, so this sounded pretty odd at first. Good for her!

    frjim4321, I will be praying for you. :)

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    “If we wish to emphasize that Ave Maria U doesn’t offer various hard sciences programs or have exclusively PhD faculty, we should also remember that Ave Maria U..didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago.”

    I was simply commenting on the notion that they place 100% of their Ph.Ds. They can do this because they do not, at this time, have to compete in many areas. That statistic will change even as the university grows. Will they become a renown as Princeton in math or Harvard in biochemistry? Time will tell.

    The Chicken

  37. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    (1) This is apparently from 2010. Do we know if she stayed in the order? I hear their attrition rate is fairly high. And the treatment rate in Philly is not insignificant. I saw the post from accidental above but it was not entirely clear that that referred to this student. I would expect a Harvard grad would seek further studies from an more highly esteemed institution than AMU. And if she is brilliant, and graduated from Harvard in 2010, why is she still working on her masters in December, 2014? Something is not computing here.

    a.A Jesuit I know (an MD) told me a few years ago that the attrition rate in his province from entrance to ordination is something like 80%. I rather doubt that the attrition rate in Nashville or Ann Arbor comes anywhere close to that.

    b. She no doubt did a novitiate and probably also a postulancy before she went to AMU.

    c. Prestige should be the last consideration of where someone studies–the primary consideration is the best place to pursue knowledge.

    (3) If the post from accidental is about this woman it seems that the order imposed a name upon her that is different from her baptismal name. From what I have seen it’s not the archaic “habit” that most distinguishes the retrograde orders of religious women from the V2 reformed orders, it’s rather the demeaning practice of having their baptismal names taken away and replaced by a “name” chosen by another person. The theft of identity with respect to name changing seems far more insidious to me than does the imposition of a uniform. After all, even the Amish have a “uniform,” but nobody ever takes their names away.

    a. In so far as no one is forced to enter a religious order, name change is no more theft than is your Sunday mass collection.

    b. You are uninformed about the MO of name change. The friends who entered Fontgombault, then made the US foundation in Clear Creek, were given the option of taking a new name. Some did, but not all. A few took the name Francis. One, whose name was Francis, is still Francis.

    Further, historically, the MO of name change varied among others. Sometimes a novice was given three names and could select one. In other places a novice could choose three names, and the superior would select one.

    The change in name follows from the words of St Paul. Induite me novum hominem.

    BTW, the reference to novus homo (new man) also appears in certain vesting prayers.

    (4) All that said, if this person is still in this retro order I do wish her health and happiness. To me it does not seem like a very desirable existence, but maybe it meets her needs.

    Some of your comments here have indicated that you, like many priests of your generation, have been formed in a type of Gnosticism. In so far as Gnosticism goes back at least 1800 years, it seems that you prefer the more archaic version of retro.

  38. robtbrown says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    I was simply commenting on the notion that they place 100% of their Ph.Ds. They can do this because they do not, at this time, have to compete in many areas. That statistic will change even as the university grows. Will they become a renown as Princeton in math or Harvard in biochemistry? Time will tell.

    I have no idea what their plan is with graduate programs, but I think that it is important only to have good quality. What you do, do well. No grad program in math or physics is better than a below average one.