“Today is an incredible day.”
With those words, StFX Senior Class co-president Abbey Mombourquette aptly summed up the feeling of energy and excitement, pride and joy, on December 3—the Feast of St. Francis Xavier—as over 950 senior StFX students received their much-coveted and long anticipated X-Rings, the unmistakable emblem that links Xaverians worldwide.
“Waiting here today on the brink of receiving our X-Rings, I’m sure we are all filled with a mixture of emotion including joy, nostalgia and maybe a touch of apprehension about our futures. We all have been shaped by our experiences here into the individuals we are today,” Ms. Mombourquette said as she spoke on the significance of this moment to classmates, clad in black robes and seated in the Keating Centre, and to family and friends filling viewing rooms, and tuning into the 2023 X-Ring ceremony from across the globe.
“These rings have different meanings for every one of us, but they also represent the bonds we’ve created, the challenges we’ve overcome and our personal growth during our time at this remarkable institution,” she said.
“StFX is more than a university and a collection of buildings and classrooms. It’s a community that becomes a part of who we are. We’ve learned lessons of perseverance, resilience, and the importance of community, both inside and outside the classroom, which will guide us in our journeys beyond this campus.”
SYMBOL OF COMMITMENT
Senior Class co-president Taylor Gorman served as master of ceremonies.
“For me personally, this ring represents a lifelong dream, and I don't take its significance lightly. It stands as a symbol of commitment, dedication, and the deep affection I have for StFX, embodying the values of hard work and devotion,” she said.
Ms. Gorman also announced this year's Senior Class Gift, the Class of 2024 Housing eXpense fund. This annual bursary will support students facing housing insecurity.
“It’s zero days to X-Ring!” StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin said as he congratulated the senior class on reaching this milestone.
It is also another important day, he reminded. It is the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Dr. Hakin said as he spoke about the life of the saint, the university’s namesake. You imagine the strength of that individual, the courage to go on those voyages, the determination to reach those destinations, the strength of character to make it happen and the resiliency to do so, he said.
“Those my friends are Xaverian values.”
Dr. Hakin took those gathered back to 2020 as he recalled the uncertainty the start of a global pandemic created. He thanked students and their parents for putting their trust in StFX.
“The world was chaotic,” he said.
“What separates us from many others is we are a community and that takes strength,” he said, as he took time to thank the frontline workers, the students, and all who helped navigate this difficult time.
Dr. Hakin said those are the same Xaverian values the Class of 2024 began to show from the first time they came to campus. “That is quite amazing.”
Since that time you have grown. Your academic journey has unfolded. You have experiences that have set you up for future success. Today, he said, we mark your entrance into the world as Xaverians.
“Here’s my hope,” Dr. Hakin said as he spoke on what superpowers he’d hope the wearers of the X-Ring held. “That the wearers of the X-Ring are community builders, that the wearers of the X-Ring are makers of positive change in the world, that the wearers of the X-Ring have hearts filled with compassion, that the wearers of the X-Ring have relentless kindness. That is what I wish for you.”
PART OF INCREDIBLE LEGACY
Guest speaker Emma Nolan, a fourth year honours student in the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health program from Toronto, ON—and the very first current student to have this honour—spoke about the community she found at StFX and the power of the X-Ring to link the Class of 2024 with Xaverians worldwide.
“To put it simply, all you need to see is the X on someone’s hand to know that like you, they were a part of this magical institution. The pride we feel today as X-Ring recipients, is the pride alumni continue to feel many years later.”
Although each ring may represent something different, she said she hopes everyone is as proud as she is to not only have an X-Ring but be a part of an incredible legacy.
Ms. Nolan also took those gathered back to 2020 when most of the senior class arrived on campus faced with quarantine rules, mask mandates, and uncertainty on what the future would hold. “Now it is December 3rd, 2023, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, and we should be so proud. We, the Class of 2024, have come so far.”
A recent recipient of StFX’s Alumni Recognition Award, Ms. Nolan shared excepts from her award essay, sharing how her family stopped at StFX every summer on their way to visit family in Cape Breton and Newfoundland. Her mom, a 1999 graduate, was eager to tell her children about the school that’d given her much opportunity. On Dec. 3rd, Ms. Nolan did likewise, speaking of the staff, faculty and others at StFX who positively influenced her.
“Ultimately, my time at X has not only taught me to be a leader, a mentor, and the importance of a smile. It has also taught me to be kind, resilient, and the importance of community. Now as I look ahead, I will use each of these skills as I prepare for this next chapter.”
In a highly anticipated part of the ceremony (and always a closely guarded secret) the honorary X-Ring was presented to Robert “Rocky” MacDougall.
Mr. MacDougall began his career at StFX in 1988, at the campus bookstore then moving to the mailroom where he made his mark as a dedicated worker and friend to countless students, staff and faculty. He is known for taking great care in his delivery of postal services to the campus community, always on time and always with a smile. Mr. MacDougall was described as someone who goes out of his way to make each and every person feel welcomed and seen. “We could not be prouder to call him one of our own,” said Students’ Union president Sophia Fabiano who made the announcement.
“On behalf of the StFX Alumni Association, congratulations and let me see those shiny new pieces of jewelry,” StFX Alumni Association president Kathleen Sheridan said, bringing greetings on behalf of the association. “You are now officially the newest recipients of one of the most recognizable rings in the world and join tens of thousands of others who proudly display this symbol of StFX for all to see. Wearing this ring is a true privilege and serves as a representation of all that you have accomplished academically thus far.”
Whatever your X-Ring symbolizes personally, she said her hope is that, overall, it serves as a strong and constant reminder of your lifelong connection and dedication to StFX.
Ms. Sheridan advised the senior class to really soak in the feeling of this moment. “No other university in the world has a day quite like ours. The buzzing of excitement around campus and the town is palpable. I want you to promise to remember this feeling in the deep spirit and love for StFX.”
During the ceremony, senior student Brendan Roberts offered words of welcome. He too spoke of how the X-Ring is more than a piece of jewelry. It is a testament to our accomplishments, and a lifelong link to the Xaverian family, he said.
“For all students—from near and far—this ring is a reminder of the second home we found in the StFX community. It embodies the relationships between friends, peers, faculty, and community members who become like family during our university years.”
Classmates Dan Stewart read the explanation of the StFX motto, and Marcel Desmond read from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady. Robbie Hughes introduced the guest speaker and Rebekah Pitts gave the thanks. Ms. Fabiano led the Xaverian Commitment.
University Chaplain Father Donald MacGillivray delivered the invocation.
To begin the ceremony, candle bearers—Allison Briscoe, Grayson Cragg, Eve Daniels, Cole Kennedy, Emily Ketchum, Kendra MacDonell, Ella MacLeod, Alexia Parada-Castro, Evelyn Pequenera-Griffin, Sylvia Phee, Taylor Rasmussen, Lucas Seto, and Maddie Tenant—proceeded down the aisle to light 13 candles in the shape of an X.
Musicians, and students, Heidi Burns, Dane Pederson, Brendan Fitzpatrick and Malcolm MacNeil, played as the X-Rings were presented.
As the ceremony concluded, students filed out of the Keating Centre, tapping a wooden pew brought over from the University Chapel, a storied, decades-long tradition from when the ceremony was small enough to be held in that space.