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Notre Dame commencement speaker changes

| Thursday, May 1, 2014

Instead of Lord Christopher Patten, Rev. Ray Hammond will deliver Notre Dame’s 169th Commencement address May 18, the University announced today in a press release.

Patten had to cancel his scheduled speech at Notre Dame, as well as several other engagements for health reasons, vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne told The Observer.

Hammond, a Philadelphia native, is the founder of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston and was announced in March as an honorary degree recipient for this year’s ceremony.

“We are disappointed that Lord Patten will be unable to join us and will keep him in our prayers,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the press release. “At the same time, we are delighted and grateful that Rev. Ray Hammond has accepted our invitation to address the class of 2014.

“His life’s story and work are an inspiration, and I know he will provide our graduates with a powerful address.”

Browne said Jenkins’ personal interactions with Hammond played a role in the decision.

“Fr. John had met [Hammond] personally and was impressed with his spiritual demeanor as well as his life’s accomplishments and thought he would deliver a powerful message to the students,” Browne said.

Hammond entered Harvard University as a 15-year-old, earned his bachelor’s degree at 19 and his medical degree at 23, according to the release. He worked as a doctor before turning to ministry in 1976 and earned a Master of Arts degree in the Study of Religion (Christian and Medical Ethics) at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1982, the release said.

Hammond served as the former chair of the Boston Foundation and founder and chairman of the Ten Point Coalition, which the release described as “an ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders behind Boston’s successful efforts to quell gang violence in the 1990s.”

He also has served as executive director of Bethel’s Generation Excel program, executive committee member of the Black Ministerial Alliance, chair of the Boston Opportunity Agenda and a member of the Strategy Team for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the release said. Beyond that, he is a trustee of the Yawkey Foundation, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Math and Technology Charter High School.

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About Ann Marie Jakubowski

Senior News Writer, formerly Editor-in-Chief. English and Spanish double major, minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. Grand Rapids, Mich., native. Notre Dame Class of 2015.

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