CHARLESTON — Jane LaMarche, Ph.D., director of Catholic campus ministry at the College of Charleston, was honored for her dedication to students with an invitation to deliver the address at the baccalaureate service.
The religious celebration was held at Mt. Zion AME Church on May 8 before a packed house of graduates and their family and friends.
LaMarche said she was conscious that she would be speaking to an interfaith group of worshippers and wrote her remarks to include all religions, but also wanted her message to be meaningful to Catholics.
She told them she was humbled to be speaking to them and wondered what she could possibly say of import. Then she remembered the words of Anita Roddick, a British humanitarian who said, “If you think you are too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”
It is a humorous remark, but profound in its simple wisdom.
The campus minister went on to talk about integrity, and how every person should live their life reflecting the harmony between their values and their behavior.
“Regardless of your faith tradition, your higher power — whether that is Yahweh, Allah, Abba or the Triune God — pray for guidance in doing what is right, about being honest, making the right choices, being compassionate and forgiving,” LaMarche said.
She also encouraged everyone to look beyond the exterior of a person, which may not be stylish or beautiful, to see the treasure inside.
“Be a person of integrity, cultivate the virtue within,” she said. “For your choices and your deeds will determine how your life is to be measured.”
LaMarche was invited to deliver the address by the College of Charleston’s Religious Life Council, which consists of campus ministers and advisors to various faith traditions.
She said she has given the blessing at a number of schools, including the college’s baccalaureate service three years ago, but this is the first time she delivered the actual address.
“It was an honor and I was happy to do it,” she told The Miscellany in a telephone interview.
The program itself includes participants from a wide variety of denominations who all have a role in the service, such as welcoming the congregation, delivering the invocation, serving as readers, or leading the praise and worship music.
LaMarche, who has a ministry doctorate from Boston University’s school of theology, said the baccalaureate celebration varies from school to school, but is primarily a worship service.
She noted that at the College of Charleston, about 10 percent of the 10,000 undergraduates are Catholic. During the year, she attends St. Patrick Church with the students, but returns to her parish in the summer, Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant.
LaMarche has been involved with campus ministry since 1979, and had planned to retire this year. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone asked her to remain an extra year as he transitions into his new role, and she agreed.
She said she is looking forward to retirement, when she plans to spend quality time with her family and continue her volunteer work with the Franke Home.
“That’s important to me, to give a bit back. I also have grandchildren I haven’t been able to spend enough time with,” she said.