Harvard Valedictorian Joins Convent

Here is your awesome story of the day!

The 2010 Harvard Valedictorian, Mary Anne Marks, who delivered her valedictory speech in Latin is joining the awesome Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor. Boy I love those nuns!

Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Miss Marks in "God and Woman at Harvard "

Perhaps this is becoming a trend:
LOPEZ: I don’t know Harvard to be a great incubator or beacon of religious vocations. Am I wrong?

MARKS: Yes, Deo gratias! A couple of years ago, a young man who finished Harvard in three years entered the seminary in St. Louis. A little further back, a young woman who attended Harvard and lived in the same women’s residence that I did joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. One of my friends, whom I met while she was pursuing a degree at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, joined the Religious Sisters of Mercy two years ago. This July 25, two young men from Harvard joined the Eastern Province of the Dominicans.

This is wonderful news!

Go read the full interview here!

And Just for fun, here is her valedictory speech.


  1. Soon Harvard will have more vocations than Thomas Aquinas College in S California...NOT!

  2. God is definitely great. Praise HIM!

  3. Man that recreated "classical" pronunciation really grates on the ears. I just can't believe any general would ever say "Weenie Weedy Weekie"

  4. I don't understand why she would give her speech in Latin. Was it to show everyone how smart she is? Can anyone explain this? Maybe there are good reasons for it, I just can't think of any....

  5. Classical pronunciation sounds gay to my ears. Like Castillian Spanish.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    Is it really recreated?

  6. According to my DH (whose veracity I never doubt, except when I disagree with him ;-)), a bunch of snobby Germans invented "classical" Latin pronunciation pretty much out of thin air.

    My DH believes Church Latin is probably closer to the way the ancient Romans spoke Latin. After all, it grew out of ancient Latin, and it sounds a lot like Italian, which also grew out of ancient Latin.

    But it's complicated, and I bet the controversy will never be resolved. Not unless Doctor Who jumps into the Tardis and travels to ancient Rome and then reports back to us. Barring that, we'll probably never know how Latin was pronounced way back when.

  7. We know the "c" sounded hard like a "k" in classical latin because greek transliterations of latin at the time showed it to be hard. You can also see it in words like the german Kaiser which was derived over time from Caesar.

  8. Paul said...

    I don't understand why she would give her speech in Latin. Was it to show everyone how smart she is?

    No. I think it was to illustrate how dumb the west has become as a result of all the "progress."

  9. I was taught this pronunciation of Latin in public high school.
    When I was at a class at the Toronto Oratory, the priest asked if anyone knew the Latin for something.
    Very proud of myself, I came up with it.
    He made a face.
    Can anyone say it in CHURCH Latin? he asked.
    Oh well.
    I sometimes slip into classical pronunciation at Latin masses but I am beginning to pick it up.
    In high school I believe we were taught to be a bit snobbish about our classical pronunciation!

    Susan Peterson

  10. While I am impressed, and a bit jealous, that she could deliver an entire speech in Latin, I think this was a missed opportunity for her. I suspect that most of the audience wouldn’t have understood Latin, so whatever she had to say was lost on them. The things she told The National Review would have been great to explain to graduating seniors, especially at this liberal mill.

  11. Any Harvard grads out there?

    A bit closer to the graduation I seem to recall reading that its a tradition to give the speach in Latin, with the other grads given a transcript in English.

    I may of course be wrong on this.

  12. Perhaps she gave her speech in Latin because she wanted to and because it injected a bit of levity into the situation....and because she wasn't afraid of looking odd to other folks. People will REMEMBER this speech--do you remember any valedictory you have ever heard? Why is the first response to something like this to impugn the motives of the person doing them? Better to practice attributing good motives until and unless proved otherwise...

  13. Yes, it is a very old tradition that the speech be given in Latin.
    Youtube and watch the last several years of them.

  14. Well, I thought it was fantastic. Didn't understand a word of it, but her delivery was great! You go, girl!

  15. If the speech did have any substance, no one would know. So it does seem more grandstanding to me.
    I do remember a speech given by a valedictorian, at our son's graduation from the Coast Guard Academy this last spring. It was such an amazing speech, Admiral Thad Allen's speech seemed diminished after his, and he admitted it. Neither was spoken in Latin, and it would have been silly if they were.

  16. EGO non agnosco unus vox!

  17. I think of it this way.

    Does anyone remember one word of the valedictorian speech given at their graduation?

    But if it had been in Latin, you would have least remembered that.


  18. Perhaps a part of her motivation was to honor the language and its central place in our culture - and to suggest that perhaps everyone would be bettered by learning a little bit of it.

  19. The full Latin text and the English translation was in the program that everyone received at the door. It was an amazing speech!

    Suzanne from Oklahoma

  20. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/05/commence-wonderment/ It is a Harvard tradition.

    Pax et bonum

  21. Harvard has always had a Latin oratory at its major events. It is not unique to Harvard. I believe some Oxford colleges still do it too. So it is not as if this woman simply decided to address the crowd in Latin just for her own grandstanding. That is a rather callous way to think.

    Also, this is not the valedictory speech (hint: salvete!). It is the salutatory speech. She begins the event with a Latin salutation, generally talking about the college. The actually keynote speeches happen sometime afterward. Don't worry, these will be in English.

  22. I like the Army of Mary bunch. They take mary worship to the heights where it should be. We need to stop covering up our worship of Mary to the outside world by calling it adoration and what not.Be honest, we catholics worship Mary, we bow befor her images.One day soon the Pope will declair that Mary is not just co-redeemer, but co- God. Lets come out of the closet and declair to the world that we worship Mary dear catholics. Hail Mary

  23. What a wonderful tradition! Keeping a rudder to one's past ensures a straighter course toward the future.

    Not everyone is ignorant of Latin, by the way. Having had quite a bit of it in high school and college, I understood the speech. Those present had the translation in English. Be kind and think of others as you would have them think of you.

  24. Anounymous said "One day soon the Pope will declair that Mary is not just co-redeemer, but co- God."

    Ummmm... you might want to do a bit more reading on the fifth Marian dogma, both pro and con.

    Roman Catholics do not worship Mary, no matter how much we may love her (and we really, really do.) Even among those who promote the adoption of the terms Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, it is acknowledged that "...it must be understood «that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator».

    There is one God, and one only.

  25. So the speech is in latin .... and most of the listeners read the text in english!!! Sounds just like the pre-Vatican II church ... and those who love her speech are the very ones who in the church were/are reading the english side of their missalswhile the priests went on in latin. Some things, SADLY, never change

  26. Please drop the whiny "that's-so-pre-Vatican-II" dribble and grow up finally

  27. The reason that I really like this article is because I have a few atheist/agnostic friends/acquaintances at my high school who seem to have the opinion that religion is just for stupid people, which is very offensive to me. This article is proof of just the opposite and that makes me happy. It's like a silent victory for me. So I'm very happy to read this.

  28. One of my instructors in Latin at Berkeley gave this speech when she graduated from Harvard. She was a militant feminist atheist though, but a nice young woman. She had studied with Fr. Reginald Foster in Rome, and encouraged me to do the same. (Though I told her that as an older returning student, I had chased enough butterflies in my lifetime.) Sadly, she died in a tragic bicycle accident a couple of months after I took her class on early Republican prose. Sort of a sad footnote, but she was very, very enthusiastic about a very obscure subject (always told us that we HAD to take Greek, and Sanskrit, if we were really up to snuff).

  29. Anonymous said, "Sounds just like the pre-Vatican II church ... and those who love her speech are the very ones who in the church were/are reading the english side of their missalswhile the priests went on in latin."

    A bit presumptuous, don't you think? Are you absolutely sure that your statement is correct?

    Besides, this article is about a speech given at a university that has absolutely nothing to do with the Catholic Church. It's a liberal arts education, which has this as what they do. Let them do it and don't watch if it makes one feel upset, or whatever...

    Congratulations Miss Marks! Felicidades!

  30. With due respect, I don't understand why people make a big deal when accomplished people abandon everything to serve the Lord. I remember a priest once said that people would often wonder if they see a good-looking priest, as if he had some really serious reasons behind to forego marriage when he can be every woman's dream.

    Then he said, let us change our way of thinking that it seems only the broken-hearted, ugly, dumb people are in the seminaries and convents giving up the world for God.

    God deserves only the best. He is befitting of the brightest among the brightest and the best among the best.

  31. I predict, within the next millenium, Latin will be resurrected as the Universal language. Of course, this will co-incide with the renewal of the Tridentine Rite Mass and the mass conversion of first the Anglicans, then the Lutherans, then the Russian and Greek Orthodox, then the Mormons, then the Hindus, then the Buddhists and finally the Muslims to Holy Mother Church, the one, holy, Roman Catholic Church.

  32. She inspires me really. That interview was very encouraging, hopefully more youth will head in a similar direction as her.

  33. she seems very geeky. i'm not surprised she joined the nunnery. poor girl.

  34. Well, well, who would have thought it: Harvard is actually good for something.

    BTW, Diane's husband is perfectly correct. The hard C and other modern mispronunciations of Latin were indeed German innovations of the 19th century. A lot of deracinated university professors wanted to sever Latin from its indissoluble connection to the Faith and pretend it was a purely academic pursuit. - Elinor Dashwood, Yale 1981

  35. Those who denigrate Mary are to be pitied, for they are missing out on a most wonderful truth--the communion of saints. Those whi have died in Christ are more alive than we are in a greater and more glorious reality, and we can hope that one day we will be with them.

    This is not the invention of any human beings but God's great gift to us to give us hope. Jesus promised not to abandon us. He is with us always and all the saints--not just Mary--are with Him(as He promised the thief on the cross) and they are "the great crowd of witnesses" spoken of in the Bible.

    And if God allows Mary to make herself visible to some of her children at times to comfort us that is a great gift. Jesus promised to be with us for all time, and since He is God why cannot He and His saints make appearances at times if He sees fit? Heaven is more real than life on this earth for it is forever. Again, it's not something anyone made up.


  36. Wow! A bunch of really educated folks, and no one is entering the Jesuits...That's interesting to me.

  37. Those Dominicans will knock that Classical pronunciation right out of her, Deo gratias.

    I think there's a line in Hinton's _Goodbye, Mr. Chips_ in which Chips refuses to adopt the new (i.e. "Classical") pronunciation because it sounds ridiculous ("Veni, vidi, vici"; one sounds like Elmer Fudd and not Caesar).


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