Graduates Honored at Walsh University 2022 Commencement

Walsh University celebrated the accomplishments of 648 graduates during its Commencement Weekend, May 6-7, 2022. This year’s class included graduates representing eight countries, 19 states and 64 majors. In addition, Walsh was proud to welcome the Most Reverend Bishop David J. Bonnar, the sixth Bishop of Youngstown, as this year’s Commencement Speaker and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. 

View Videos and Photos from Commencement Weekend Here

Rev. Bonnar urged graduates to behold their Walsh University experience as they cross this metaphorical bridge and to be grateful for the relationships they’ve formed.

“Walsh University is all about building bridges over various gaps and gulfs toward a path of discovery,” Rev. Bonnar said. “Walsh University is a bridge to somewhere.  Your time here at Walsh has afforded you the opportunity to uncover these bridges and walk across them to realize new insights and lessons.  Because Walsh is a Catholic institution, espousing Christian values with a committed spiritual life, you have been blessed with many opportunities to cross the bridge to a deeper relationship with Jesus and His church as you one day strive to reach eternal life in Heaven.  Holy Mass, prayer, Campus Ministry programs, and service projects inevitably take us beyond ourselves to a sense of community and an awareness that the needs of others are often greater than our own.”

The University conferred diplomas to graduates from the DeVille School of Business and School of Behavioral & Health Sciences in a morning ceremony and the Byers School of Nursing, Division of Education and School of Arts and Sciences in an afternoon ceremony. 

Each ceremony included an Invocation and Blessing by Senior Chaplain Rev. Thomas Cebula, musical performances by the Chamber Singers and Concert Band and remarks by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Dunphy, University President Dr. Tim Collins and graduate Skyler Stewart, the recipient of the Tower of Excellence Award.

“We’ve all experienced challenges, whether financial, being away from home – for some, it was moving to a new country – studying for classes, making new friends, trying to get our footing during the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more,” Stewart said.  “Yet, in this moment, the challenges each and every one of us have faced seem so minute because despite it all, we persevered.  We bloomed exactly where we were planted and stepped into our season filled with change.” 

In his remarks, President Collins congratulated the Classes of 2022 and assured each graduate that "you are ready" to step confidently into the next chapter of life. 

“The responsibilities you assume today, as one of only seven people out of every 100 in the world to achieve this level of higher education is enormous as you become our future leaders – in the family, the workplace, your communities and throughout society.  I urge you, take your formation and education and place it in service for the betterment of those around you, of those entrusted to you, this is what you ought to do.”  

Click here for the full draft of Dr. Timothy J. Collins’ Spring Commencement Address.

During the commencement ceremonies, Walsh University presented an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Rev. Bonnar for his extraordinary achievements, generous service to others and for his interest in higher education and a supportive association with the University.

“I am truly honored to stand here today before you, not just as a bishop, but as a lifelong student and learner to offer some insight as you cross the bridge from today to a new tomorrow,” Rev. Bonnar said.  “I am humbled beyond words to be a recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from this prized institution of faith and learning.”

Reverend Bishop David J. Bonnar received a bachelor degree in Social Communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his birthplace, and studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, receiving a Bachelor in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1987 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh on July 23, 1988.

After ordination, Bishop Bonnar served as parochial vicar at Saint Vitus Parish, New Castle, PA; Saint Rosalia Parish, Greenfield, PA; and Saint Thomas More Parish, Bethel Park, PA. While at Saint Rosalia Parish, he also served as chaplain at Central Catholic High School. In 1997, he was named Director of Vocations, Director of the Pre-Ordination program, Director of the Permanent Diaconate program and Rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh where he served until 2002. From 2002 to 2007, he served as pastor of Saint Bartholomew Parish in Penn Hills. In 2007, Bishop Bonnar was named Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership. During this time, he also served as Delegate for Clergy (2007) and Episcopal Vicar for Clergy (2007-2009). In 2009, Bishop Bonnar was appointed pastor of Saint Bernard Parish, Mount Lebanon, PA, and from 2018 also served as administrator of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Scott Township, PA. In 2020, he was named pastor of Saint Aidan Parish, Wexford, PA. On November 17, 2020, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him as the sixth Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio.

In addition to his ministerial assignments, Bishop Bonnar has also served on the Diocese of Pittsburgh Post-Ordination Board, Clergy Personnel Board, Seminary Admissions Board, Chair of the Permanent Diaconate Admissions Board, Chair of the Priestly Formation Board, Chair of the Priesthood Candidate Admission Board, and Chair of Catholic High Schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh Committee. Since 2014, Bishop Bonnar has been the editor of The Priest magazine and in 2020 was appointed a member of the National Advisory Board for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For 12 years Bishop Bonnar served as a chaplain to the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team.

Commencement weekend events included the Toast to the Tassel, the President’s Awards Dinner honoring outstanding seniors and Baccalaureate Holy Mass.