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McGillick Reflects on Love, Brotherhood

Jack McGillick ’22, headed to Georgetown University, delivered the Salutatory Address at Xavier’s 180th Commencement.

Here is the text of McGillick’s Speech:

Good evening Mr. Raslowsky, Ms. Smith, Dr. Cornacchia, faculty, staff, parents, relatives, and my fellow Sons of Xavier. Welcome to Xavier High School’s Class of 2022 Commencement ceremony!

Graduates, we have much to be proud of. Whether it was finishing the last AP test, taking the last final, walking the last JUG, or playing the last game—we finished. Although bittersweet, this is an immense accomplishment. Parents and relatives, you have much to be proud of. It is only because of the support you provided and the sacrifices you made that tonight is possible. Faculty and staff, you have much to be proud of. Your selfless dedication to every member of this class has made a profound impact on our lives.

When writing this speech, I imagined myself standing here in this beautiful cathedral surrounded by my classmates, our families, our wonderful teachers, and our administrators. I remembered back in December when many of us gathered here to celebrate Xavier’s 175th anniversary.

Like tonight, I felt the strength of the Xavier community. It was one of the first times that the entire school had gathered together to celebrate Mass post-COVID, and I was reminded of the special bond that we all share. Being a Son of Xavier means being a part of a family, one not bound by blood but rather by shared experiences.

My earliest memory of Xavier is freshman orientation––when we all crowded into Xavier’s gym in September 2018, eager to find out what JUG was and if our bar met the extensive qualifications outlined in Xavier’s handbook. While we got introduced to the slew of rules that we anticipated, Mr. LiVigni focused most of his introduction on something far more impactful: love and brotherhood. He looked out into the crowd and said, “These are your brothers, your Xavier brothers.” At the time, these words seemed like any other awkward cliché. How could these 260 guys who I had never met before be my brothers? I have a brother, a twin brother at that, and I know the weight that word carries. Yet, describing the Xavier community as anything less than family would be an understatement.

Whether it is the relationships formed with teachers in the classroom, during office hours, or at club meetings, the relationships formed with coaches on the field, on the court, or in the gym, or the relationships formed with each other sharing the joy of smoking Regis in the triple header, the pressure of applying to college, or the misery of finals week, we have grown together through our experiences––and today, when I look around at the 260 guys who are graduating with me, I see my brothers.

The time that this connection became clear to me was on Kairos during our junior year. After the pandemic had separated us from our Xavier family for more than a year, being able to go on Kairos reminded us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We formed new relationships and strengthened existing ones––and we left with excitement to embrace the Xavier community throughout the rest of our time at Xavier. We left excited to live the fourth day of Kairos.

A year later, I returned to Kairos as a retreat leader and gave the "live the fourth" talk about the importance of taking the lessons we learned on the retreat and living them out for the rest of our lives.

Well, my fellow Sons of Xavier, when we walk onto Fifth Avenue tonight, we will be living the fourth in two ways. Not only will we continue to live the fourth day of Kairos, but we will also live the fourth year of Xavier. Over the past four years, we have grown physically, we have grown intellectually, we have grown spiritually, we have grown emotionally, and, perhaps most importantly, we have grown morally. When we came to Xavier as freshmen, we were confused teenagers, unaware of the immense challenges that our world faced—challenges which have only become more daunting—but throughout our time here, we have grown into educated young men with the foundations to be forces for good in the world. This past year we began to live our fourth year as Sons of Xavier––we led clubs and sports teams, we embarked on senior service and trips, and we tutored underclassmen. But after today, much like after Kairos, we all have an important decision to make––will we continue to live our fourth year at Xavier for the rest of our lives, or will we let it fade into a distant part of our past. The choice is ours, but knowing this class, I am confident that we will make the right one. Thank you.