By Emily Drooby
On May 23, among a sea of St. Francis College graduates, was a bishop.
Brooklyn’s Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros was invited the school’s graduation to give the invocation, and also to receive an honorary degree.
He was thrilled to receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters, and also to share the stage with so many successful young people.
“Everybody is enjoying, and I know that it means a lot for them,” Bishop Cisneros said.
“It means a lot for all of us in the Diocese of Brooklyn. They’re the future, it’s the future of the Church, it’s the future of our city and our country. Men and women who are educated but who, also have in their hearts the love of God, faith.”
When he was just a teen, Bishop Cisneros arrived in the United States through Operation Peter Pan, a Catholic humanitarian effort that brought thousands of unaccompanied minors to the country from Cuba.
He thrived in the U.S. earning a Masters degree in Divinity from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Long Island. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1971, eventually growing into an influential Catholic leader.
Bishop Cisneros was thrilled to see students from all over the world graduating from St. Francis, “to share with others who are from Brooklyn and Queens, the immigrants, those who have come to this country to obtain a better life for themselves, who want to get ahead, who want to educate.”
He was also happy to share the moment with students like Amal Hawari, a DACA recipient from Venezuela and the graduating student who delivered the ceremony’s welcome address.
“Today we should realize that regardless of how much the odds are against, us nothing is unachievable and we all get to write our own history,” Hawari said to the crowd.
Hawari and many other students credit St. Francis College for their success, including Co-Valedictorian Arianna Sartzetaki.
“I have had a really great support system especially at St. Francis, through various faculty and administrators that really pushed me to be where I am today,” she said.
Now, over three hundred graduates will ready to take on the world with their new degrees.