Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

First year StFX students commit to pursuit of excellence at Xaverian Welcome Ceremony

October 17th, 2021
Committing to the pursuit of excellence - first year StFX students take part in Xaverian Welcome Ceremony

Be bold. Explore new things. Get involved. Challenge yourself. And take full advantage of the opportunity presented to you at St. Francis Xavier University. Those were the words of advice StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin had for members of the incoming freshmen class, first year students who gathered Oct. 17 to take part in the Xaverian Welcome Ceremony, where all new students are invited to commit themselves to a life of thought and service as they join the Xaverian community. 

Students again renew this commitment their senior year, at the X-Ring and Convocation.

Dr. Hakin opened the Xaverian Welcome telling the incoming class “how pleased and proud we are to have you with us on this beautiful campus. Your presence makes us complete. 

“It was a good decision to come to StFX,” he told the students, gathered in the University Chapel. 

“Now you must extract everything out of this opportunity presented to you.”


Education is like being awarded a golden key, a key that opens many doors, he said. “But you must engage in that experience.” 

StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin addresses the Xaverian Welcome Ceremony

Get into the driver’s seat and have purpose in all you do, he advised. Society needs bright, committed individuals to make a difference. 

Dr. Hakin also spoke about “Being Xaverian,” that expectation that comes along with joining the Xaverian community, of being academically focused and socially engaged.

“I wish you success,” he said. “It is time to write your story.”


Academic Vice President and Provost Dr. Tim Hynes also advised the incoming class to make the most of their short, but important time at StFX. 

He told the students, clad in black gowns, that they wear academic regalia as a reminder that they are here for academic purposes. These are the days that will help define the rest of your life, he said. Be ready and be willing to be challenged. Develop an appetite for knowledge. 

Dr. Hynes also spoke about the importance of Being Xaverian, giving a brief history of the life of St. Francis Xavier, a wealthy, privileged man who, while at university in Paris, opened his eyes to societal challenges, later becoming a missionary and helping to improve life for others, always with the belief that education is the most effective and powerful tool. 

“The value of education, social justice and service to one’s community, this is exactly what StFX espouses to be today,” he said. 

“We want people who want to change the world, for good. At StFX, you will be challenged. What will you do with your time? How will you serve your community with respect and integrity?” he asked.

Being Xaverian is about service to others. 

“I charge you with the task of giving it your best,” he said. “I wish you all the best as you embark on your great journey.” 


In his remarks, StFX Students’ Union President Jack Irvin said the ceremony is a reminder of why we’re here—a commitment to excellence in academic pursuits, and excellence in all areas of life.

Take advantage of all the opportunities StFX presents and use them to make a difference, he said, telling the students of his own journey over the past four years, of sitting in this same room with people he hardly knew, people who became friends, and then family, who support and help each other. 

“The rewards are great and it’s worth the effort.”

Before sharing a prayer, University Chaplain Fr. Donald MacGillivary shared with the students a recent interaction he had with the Class of 1971 during StFX’s virtual homecoming. He told of how he was struck by the similarities between their experience of this place, his own, and what he hears today, in particular regarding the importance of friendship and how these relationships, often 50 years later, are strong, vibrant and a source of strength. “The Xaverian Spirit has perhaps its very root in friendship.” 


Students’ Union VP Academic Meredith Cudmore-Keating introduced the Xaverian Commitment, telling students StFX was founded in 1853 as a centre for higher learning in eastern Nova Scotia. “Ever since, students have committed themselves to a life of thought and action. The spirit of “quaecumque sunt vera,” which translates to “whatsoever things are true,” is reflected in the commitment you are about to make.”

She introduced Anna Hancin, Students’ Union Meech Freshman award winner, who led the incoming class in the recitation of the commitment as the newest members of the StFX community pledged themselves to the pursuit of excellence in their academic, social, and spiritual lives.

Students were also invited to sign a declaration card, taking a few minutes to write a note to themselves, thinking of what they hope to achieve during their time at X as they committed to upholding these values and working towards their own personal goals.

Third year students Claire MacMullin and Claya Way Brackenbury provided musical accompaniment. 

First year student Reaghan Sylvester led classmates to the front of the chapel to place their signed declarations into a box, accepted by Dr. Hakin.

Quinn Campbell, a representative of first year students, offered a reflection.

Jacqueline De Leebeeck, Director of Student Life, acted as master of ceremonies, beginning the ceremony with a territorial acknowledgement that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. As Ms. De Leebeeck closed the ceremony, she noted as Director of Student Life, she wanted to thank the students for all they’ve done to help keep fellow students, faculty, staff, and residents of Antigonish safe and healthy.

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