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President’s Reception Focuses on Gratitude by Celebrating Top Donors

Gratitude, appreciation and thanks. Those are the values that filled every individual’s heart in attendance at the President’s Reception, held on September 20 in The Duncan Family Sky Room at the Mac Mahon Student Center. The words of alumnus Bob Luchetti ’55 portrayed this sentiment best: “I wouldn’t have gotten the job I had without Saint Peter’s. I grew up in an impoverished family and was the first to attend college. I had to work my way through school, then come to Saint Peter’s and hitchhike my way home.”

He added, “My donation is a part of something big. I was able to break through poverty and attend school, and therefore break the cycle. While I was the first one to go to college, I wasn’t the last. We broke through.”

The President’s Reception is an annual celebration where Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University, shows his gratitude and personally thanks members of the President’s Council, a core group of Saint Peter’s alumni and friends who have demonstrated an admirable dedication and unmatched kindness to the University’s mission and students by generously making an investment of $1,000 or more annually. As alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students came together, Dr. Cornacchia delivered an address that updated those in attendance about the University’s monumental milestones from the past year.

“In the days leading up to this event, someone approached me to let me know that they would be attending ‘MY’ reception on Friday night. As I thought about this remark, it struck me that while it may be titled the President’s Reception, this evening has very little to do with me. This evening is about you.”

He added, “It’s because of you, our donors, that we are in this building tonight. And it’s because of you, our donors, that we have been able to embark on new and exciting academic terrain, such as our master’s in strategic communication, master’s in public administration and others that you’ll be hearing about in coming months. And it’s because of you, our donors, that later in the program, you will meet but one of our countless bright young minds who has both a vision for, and promise of, a successful future.  Your gifts to our scholarship program secure this future for her and her classmates.”

The student Dr. Cornacchia spoke of was Elizabeth Callahan ’14, a nursing major and Pavo Society member. Despite any obstacle, Callahan never lost her faith. Instead, she vowed to help others and do more for God.

“In Magis, we are taught at Saint Peter’s that the more you do for others, the more you do for God,” she said. “Magis has been my driving force. I’ve made it my obligation to be an ambassador for Saint Peter’s where ever I go. One thing I learned at the University is that all things are possible.”

During her time at Saint Peter’s, Callahan has learned and lived out many Jesuit principles, such as St. Ignatius’ belief in the importance of man showing gratitude for all the gifts God blessed his children with here on Earth. Guest speaker Rev. James Martin, S.J., award-winning author and contributing editor of America magazine, echoed these sentiments during his address.

“Why is gratitude important?” asked Fr. Martin. “St. Ignatius called ingratitude ‘the most abominable of sins…for it is a forgetting of the graces, blessings, and benefits received. As such, it is the cause, beginning and origin of all sins and misfortunes.’”

He added, “In gratitude leads us to the blindness of God’s presence in our lives. We tend to go right to our problems. Why? Because we are problem solvers. That’s an aspect of our prehistoric mind. Our mind goes to the negative. Yet Ignatius says to recall what we are grateful for.”

Fr. Martin asked all in attendance to participate in a spiritual prayer, a moment of reflection where one recalls one thing that they are grateful for in the moment. “Think about it, savor it and tell God ‘thank you.’”

Fr. Martin concluded by saying, “No matter how many disasters, God is in everyone’s life.”

In closing the evening, Dr. Cornacchia thanked supporters for their continued generosity and belief in Saint Peter’s special brand of Jesuit education, which ensures that “Tradition and Progress” continues, and helps to create new possibilities for current and future generations of students.

Patrick Cassidy ’61 summed the evening up perfectly when he said, “I give back because it’s alma mater. I received a scholarship to come here, so I feel the need to give back.”

To view more photos from the event, click here.