ARLINGTON, VA – The 2015 Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences brought twenty-two new graduates with master’s and doctoral degrees. Marking the fourteenth year of commencement exercises, the emphasis was on the importance of mercy as they embark on their future careers.

Immaculeé Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that took the lives of nearly one million Tutsis, addressed the recent graduates by sharing her story of survival. “You have a big job, and an important one. When I was a child I wanted to be like you. By bringing your gifts to the world, you will bring change. The world is hungry for people who show them the way.” Ms. Ilibagiza was presented with an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from IPS President Fr. Charles Sikorsky, L.C. with a recognition of her important contributions to worldwide humanitarian efforts to promote faith, hope and forgiveness even in the worst possible circumstances.

With the upcoming Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, the graduates were commissioned in a particular way to be witnesses to hope and healing.   Fr. Shawn Aaron, L.C. spoke to this important mission when he addressed the graduates: “Your call is to help those standing alone. It is not always a technique, but always a relationship that transforms.” The graduates were reminded that through the time of preparation and training, they are being called to serve in a greater capacity and for a greater purpose.

Each graduation marks the culmination of studies, clinical experience and academic training of graduates. Among the graduates, their experience included working in settings across the country, providing crisis counseling, individual, marital and group therapy for a variety of diverse populations.

The ceremony began with a Baccalaureate Mass in the Crypt Chapel of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The IPS Choir, led by graduate Sr. Mary Concepta, S.V., lifted the congregation in music and song accompanied by organ, violin and viola interludes.

Following the Mass, Alumni Dr. Christina Lynch accepted the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award, presented a graduate who has made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments, affiliations and careers have honored the legacy of the excellence of the school.  Dr. Paul Vitz was awarded the President’s Service Award for his ongoing commitment and service to IPS since the founding.

IPS Chaplain, Fr. John Pietropaoli, L.C. closed with a blessing of the graduates, “Grant to all those present the eyes to recognize your face and the ears to hear your voice. Bless the IPS community, all our family and friends, and those who support our efforts to share your vision of the human person in all its truth and beauty and healing power.”

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