Becoming Agents of Mercy: 2016 Commencement Exercises

This May marked a milestone for Divine Mercy University, as the 15th Commencement Exercises celebrated 22 new masters and doctoral graduates from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, and the inauguration and ceremonial opening of Divine Mercy University was held on May 19th. Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, Bishop Knestout, Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and over 90 attendees were present to mark the opening of the university.

Archbishop Lori offered his words of gratitude, “I wish to thank all of you who carry forward the mission of this university dedicated to Divine Mercy.  You effectively address the emotional and psychological wounds with a well-formed sense of human dignity both natural and supernatural.  You seek to restore those who serve with a sense of freedom that opens them to love of God and others.  Your work has improved the lives of many individuals and families as well as the lives of priests and religious sisters and brothers.  For this I thank you.  Yours is a work that is at the service of both Freedom and Mercy.”

He presented the final lecture in the 2015-2016 Newman Lecture Series on “Religious Freedom in the Year of Mercy.” He marked the importance of the mission of every person in this wounded world. “If God’s mercy finds a home in our hearts, we are not just going to be recipients, but agents of compassion in a world marked by broken relationships.”

In his remarks to the new graduates, Fr. Charles Sikorsky, L.C., president of Divine Mercy University, recognized the hard work, sacrifice and generosity of the students in responding to God’s invitation to work in the mental health field.

“Our university feels called by God to change culture – and you, dear graduates, are the true agents of change,” Fr. Sikorsky said.  “You – the generations of graduates who go out to the world, to spread the good news, to not hide your light under a bushel basket – are the ones who are going to really make the difference in our culture.  You are the living breathing, walking, talking, healing mission in practice.”

The Commencement address at this year’s ceremony was delivered by Belmont Abbey College president, Dr. William Thierfelder.  Theirfelder, a sports psychologist and inspirational leader, has helped thousands of athletes achieve improvements in their athletic performances and instilled in them the importance of growing in virtue. Thierfelder encouraged the graduating members of the Class of 2016 to focus on engaging the present moment.

“No moment can be wasted. No opportunity missed.  Since each has a purpose in man’s life. Each has a purpose in God’s plan. … One of the greatest things you can give someone, especially as a psychologist, is to be fully present.  Listening to them is a gift of your time, attention and love. And love is at the center of it all.”

Dr. Andrew Sodergren, IPS Class of 2009, was honored with the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, bestowed upon an alumnus who has shown great dedication and leadership in his field.  He spoke to the graduates of the importance of answering the question of ‘why’ you have chosen this path of healing.  He shares, “Each of us will answer this question in a different way, but it is important that we ask it of ourselves from time to time to get refocused… My understanding of why I did all this has certainly evolved over the years and currently centers on helping people embrace and live out their vocation to love.  Even more though, my “why” has become embodied in the people I serve.”

The 2016 graduates embark on their mission to be agents of mercy to a wounded world.  They follow Pope Francis’ call to embrace the merciful love of the Father.  “God’s mercy has entered the heart, revealing and showing wherein our certainty and hope lie:  there is always the possibility of change, we still have time to transform what is destroying us as a people, what is demeaning our humanity.  Mercy encourages us to look to the present, and to trust what is healthy and good beating in every heart.  God’s mercy is our shield and our strength.”

For more information about the degree programs at Divine Mercy University, contact 703-416-1441 or visit

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