GMercyU President Shares Thanksgiving Message

November 21, 2017
GMercyU Front Entrance

Dear GMercyU community, 

Every year at this time our nation pauses to give thanks, yet I am conscious of how difficult a year this has been.  Our Critical Concerns cry for attention, as each day’s headlines announce a new disaster: hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; senseless killings in Las Vegas, New York, and Texas; and the unfolding stories of abuse of power marked by the hashtag “me too.”  The very waters of our national discourse seem to have been polluted by ugly rhetoric, escalating tensions along racial, religious, and class lines.  

I find it helpful, in the midst of all this, to remember a little history.  We all know the children’s tale of that first Thanksgiving in 1621, when pilgrims and Native Americans got together to celebrate a successful harvest.  What we do not always consider is that the people we call “pilgrims” were really refugees and immigrants, fleeing religious persecution in their own country and seeking a better life for their families—fully half of whom did not survive that first brutal winter.  And we may not remember that the Thanksgiving holiday as we now know it was established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863—at the height of the Civil War—in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation.”  

Thanksgiving, it turns out, has a venerable tradition of being offered in the midst of profoundly difficult circumstances.

And so, whatever this year has held for all of us as a nation and for each of us as individuals, we come together today to give thanks for the many blessings we do share as members of the GMercyU family.  I personally am grateful for all the goodness I have experienced in the past four months, from the kindness of your initial welcome, right up to the outpouring of generosity you have shown in the Thanksgiving baskets we bless today.  In a world of trouble, this community’s willingness to extend Mercy is a constant consolation.  

So as you leave the hectic pace of this semester for a brief holiday pause, please know that my gratitude and my prayers go with you.  Thank you for all that you do for Gwynedd Mercy University. May the days ahead be deeply blessed.

President D'Emilio 

This message was originally shared at GMercyU's annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Read more about the service and Thanksgiving collection here.