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Over the weekend, Gwynedd Mercy University celebrated the Class of 2021 with in-person, socially-distanced Commencement Ceremonies and festivities at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks. Instead of two traditional Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremonies, GMercyU honored the 773 graduates with seven individual ceremonies over the course of the weekend to ensure proper safety and social distancing.
On May 7, Gwynedd Mercy University hosted the annual Baccalaureate Mass for All to kick off Commencement weekend, with Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as the presider. Hosted to bless the current graduating class, the Baccalaureate Mass is an annual traditional Catholic Mass that is open to everyone of different faiths and backgrounds.
During the homily, the Archbishop shared words of encouragement and advice for the Class of 2021 graduates. He specifically emphasized the importance of gratitude, trust, and love, encouraging the graduates to embrace them as they continue on their journeys.
On both Friday and Saturday, The Class of 2021 and their loved ones gathered at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks for their designated Commencement Ceremony, and to honor the graduates. Each ceremony opened with the faculty procession and provided each graduate the opportunity to walk across the stage to receive their diploma and have professional photos taken.
All the Commencement festivities were planned with safety in mind. The ultimate goal was to ensure that graduates could celebrate their special day together and in-person, while following and maintaining Montgomery County COVID-10 restrictions and safety protocols. Having seven separate Commencement Ceremonies allowed the graduates to partake in a small, personal ceremony while also allowing them to invite two guests each. Each graduate and their guests sat in “pods” to keep families together and ensure that social distancing was maintained. Additionally, in between ceremonies, all seats were sanitized to prepare for the next round of graduates and guests.
Additionally, for those who were unable to attend in-person, GMercyU also offered a virtual Commencement option. Commencement speeches, recognition of graduates, and live streams were incorporated into an online platform to keep all the graduates’ loved ones involved in their special day. You can view the virtual Commencement Ceremonies here:
The weekend was full of smiles, laughter, and tears as the Class of 2021 and the GMercyU community reflected on the achievements, challenges, and triumphs of the past few years.