Share this story


 | Mary McCoy | Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University Baccalaureate Mass Celebrates Graduates, Class of 2024

‘Be different,’ Abbot Isaac Camacho Advises Graduates, ‘Make a Difference in the World’

Do not be afraid. . . for I am with you.”

As graduating Saint Leo University students and the Class of 2024 gathered in the Saint Leo Abbey Church on Friday, May 10, for the annual Baccalaureate Mass, they were reminded by Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB, that God will be with them for their next steps.

Sarah Voisinet, who graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education, gave the first reading of Acts 18:9-18. Camacho, a 1995 graduate, who celebrated the Mass, cited the reading said, “Be not afraid. Now you are going [out into the world after graduating] and what will you do? You have to find a job. It will be difficult. People will complain, ‘they have no experience.’ They want someone who will have more experience.”

But what will distinguish the graduates among those other jobseekers is being “different,” he noted. “God is different from anything that I know,” Camacho said. “Then Jesus said to his disciples ‘you have to be holy as my Father is holy.’ When you go into the world you have to be holy.

“You have to be different from the rest,” he continued in his homily. “From those who do not believe in God. From those who did not get an education from Saint Leo University, a Catholic and Benedictine institution. You have to be different in the world to make a difference.”  

He told the graduates to uphold the core values they learned at Saint Leo, which will help to make them different. “When you face bad situations, remember when you were here,” Camacho said of Saint Leo. “Surround yourself with people of goodwill who will help you to overcome any bad situation.” 

Leading the community in the Prayer of the Faithful was Isabella Riano, who was the valedictorian for University Campus. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in psychology: clinical and counseling and minors in marketing and women’s and gender studies.

Presenting the gifts were graduating seniors Reese Hathaway, Brian John, Angel Limardo, and Yamaris Ortiz-Santiago.

Members of the Music Ministry team, led by Dr. Cynthia Selph, associate professor of music, included 2024 graduates J. Paul Schellenberg, Dr. William Paul Freeman (organist), Gabe Quinn, and Riano.

Saint Leo University President Edward Dadez expressed the university’s appreciation to Camacho and the Saint Leo Abbey community, “for your support, generosity, partnership, and devotion” as he presented a gift.
“Your faith inspires us every day,” Dadez said. “As a token of our esteem, Abbot Isaac, please accept this St. Benedict medallion emblazoned upon a prayer plant. It has beautiful decorative foliage that lays flat during the day, and then folds like praying hands at night. As you and the brothers, as well as our sisters, continue to pray for the entire Saint Leo community, we hope this gift reminds you that the university values and prays for you all as well.”


About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a Catholic Benedictine university dedicated to helping learners of all backgrounds and ages gain the competence and courage to be more. Offering more than 60 degree programs to more than 14,190 students each year, the nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education in the liberal arts tradition and a community of belonging for those who seek a greater purpose in life. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a campus in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, regional education centers, and several online programs. The university is home to more than 104,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.