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QUEENS, N.Y. (May 14, 2018) — St. John’s University today announced that His Eminence Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle, D.D., S.Th.D, Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila, will serve as the distinguished speaker at the University’s Queens campus undergraduate commencement exercises to be held on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m.

“It is a great honor for St. John’s University that Cardinal Tagle has accepted our invitation to speak to graduates at this year’s commencement ceremony,” said Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s University.

“Cardinal Tagle has worked to become an important voice around the world for the poor and vulnerable. He is steadfast in his responses to the global refugee crisis, and is known for his humility and for his gift of communicating with young people a message of hope — a timely theme that will deeply resonate with our newest alumni as they embark on the next chapters in their lives.”

Cardinal Tagle is the 32nd Archbishop of Manila.

He attended San Jose Major Seminary and was ordained a priest at the age of 24.

He earned bachelor’s degrees in predivinity and sacred theology from Atenio de Manila University and Loyola School of Theology, respectively.

Cardinal Tagle is an alumnus of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., having received his licentiate in sacred theology in 1987 and a doctorate in sacred theology in 1991.


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Cardinal Tagle in a file photo.


Saint Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Tagle to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission in 1997.

In 2001, he was named Bishop of Imus, the Philippines.

He was appointed to the role of Archbishop of Manila by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 and named to the College of Cardinals a year later.

Cardinal Tagle also participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.

Since 2015, Cardinal Tagle has served as the President of Caritas Internationalis — the Church’s worldwide federation of relief and development agencies.

One of the agencies under its charge is Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

CRS is a “humanitarian aid organization which helps the poor and vulnerable overseas by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies.”

St. John’s became a Global Campus for CRS in 2016 — a collaboration that strengthens the University’s focus on learning by serving.

St. John’s became only the 10th CRS Global Campus in the United States at the time, and the collaboration is an example of the University’s commitment to its strategic priority of expanding global and community partnerships.

Under Cardinal Tagle’s leadership, Caritas “responds practically to humanitarian crises such as natural disasters, conflict, and the effects of climate change.”

The organization’s goal is to “save lives, relieve suffering, and help rebuild livelihoods and communities in the longer-term.”

Cardinal Tagle has also worked to end crises that face international migrants.

On this issue, he has said, “To ignore the needs of another person is to ignore the needs of a brother or sister.”

Known as one of the most popular cardinals on social media, Cardinal Tagle regularly makes use of Twitter to communicate messages of hope and forgiveness, and he has more than half a million “likes” on his Facebook page.

He lives humbly, riding his bicycle to work and sharing meals at his home with the poor.

Cardinal Tagle is also known to be relatable and approachable, as he prefers to be called by his nickname, “Chito,” instead of being addressed by his full title.

St. John’s University will also host its Staten Island campus commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m., on the Great Lawn at the Staten Island campus.

The commencement speaker is Lt. Gen. Michael A. Rocco ’83CBA, Deputy Commandant, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, United States Marine Corps.

He has led a distinguished and highly decorated military career for 35 years since graduating from St. John’s in 1983.

Lt. Gen. Rocco’s personal military decorations are many, and his career has seen him deployed around the globe.

He was selected to attend the Naval Command and Staff Course at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he received a Master of Arts degree in National Policy and Strategic Studies.

He also attended the Industrial College of Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., and received a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy.

In August 2017, he was promoted to his current rank.

St. John’s will host separate commencement exercises for graduate students earning their degrees from the University’s six colleges and schools beginning on May 14.

St. John’s will also host a commencement ceremony on its Rome campus.

The invited speakers for each of the ceremonies are:

• College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Queens Graduate Commencement, Monday, May 14, at 6 p.m. — S. William (Sandy) Zito, Ph.D. ’66P, Senior Associate Dean for Assessment and Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, St. John’s University

• The School of Education Queens Graduate Commencement, Tuesday, May 15, at 6 p.m. — Reginald Landeau, Jr. ’12Ed.D., Master Principal, George J. Ryan Middle School 216, Fresh Meadows, N.Y.; Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Leadership, LLC; and Adjunct Professor, St. John’s University

• The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Queens Graduate Commencement, Wednesday, May 16, at 6 p.m. — Pascal Desroches ’86CBA, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; and Member of the Board of Governors, St. John’s University

• St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Queens Graduate Commencement, Thursday, May 17, at 6 p.m. — Julie B. Schnur ’00G, ’03Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Population Health Science and Policy; Member, Center for Behavioral Oncology; and Co-Director, Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

• College of Professional Studies Queens Graduate Commencement Exercises, Friday, May 18, at 5 p.m. — Stephen J. Gold ’82SVC, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Stephen J. Gold Advisors, LLC; and Member of the College of Professional Studies Advisory Board, St. John’s University

• School of Law Commencement, Sunday, June 3, at Noon — Hon. Preet Bharara, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, New York University School of Law, and Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York

• Rome Commencement Exercises, Sunday, June 10, at 6 p.m. — Irena Loloci ’09G, Policy and Programme Consultant, United Nations World Food Programme

For more information, please visit stjohns.edu/commencement.

For all media inquiries, please contact Jen Tucholski, Director of Media Relations, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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