The Baccalaureate service derives from the medieval European custom of presenting the candidates for the degree of Bachelor (bacca) with laurels (lauri) of sermonic oration. Prefiguring Commencement, the ceremony is a service of worship that celebrates and gives thanks for lives dedicated to learning and wisdom.
A religious and spiritual event planned and led by members of the Class of 2006, this service reflects the breadth of faith traditions represented in the class. Ritually marking the close of the undergraduate years, Baccalaureate provides an occasion to remember that we do not belong only to ourselves and that our true vocations, our deepest callings, are discovered only by committing ourselves to the service of the common good. In gratitude and reverence for those sacred vocations, as numerous and as diverse in their particular expressions as the members of this Class, we gather this afternoon to remember, to rejoice and to give thanks.
The members of the Class of 2006 chose “passion” as the theme of their Baccalaureate service in honor of their deep and dynamic commitment to their families, friends and communities; to learning and growth; and to the making of a better world. As the seniors and the Sufi poet Rumi remind us, when such passions are fully embraced, we “flow down and down in always widening rings of being,” expanding our sacred connection with all of life.
The black and white photographic images visible at the perimeter of the baccalaureate service portray the passions of the Class of 2006. “Photographing Passions” was created by Cynthia A. Mauer, Christine A. Chmura, Brad S. Oriel and Yoongi Yang.
The Procession and Recession
The procession and recession of the Class embrace the ceremony and symbolically embody the rite of passage that this service celebrates. Together, they offer a prayer in motion.
The Class of 2006 processes and recesses under archways adorned with prayers, poems and blessings offered by their family members and by members of the College’s faculty and staff. May the hopes and longings expressed on these cards be carried on the wind to all the places the graduates will find themselves after leaving Bates. (For ease of viewing, all the cards are available on the Web site of the College Chaplain.)
The Readings and Blessings
The readings and blessings express the beauties and challenges of a life devoted to wisdom, compassion and humility, and they offer words to guide the graduates as they commence tomorrow. They are drawn from the sacred texts, poetry and prose of six of the spiritual traditions represented in the senior class: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism and Unitarian Universalism.
Written by members of the senior class, the litany recalls both the distinct and shared experiences of the Class of 2006 and speaks of their common values and hopes.