In an announcement Monday, April 16th, the university announced Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez as the commencement speaker for this year’s graduation ceremonies. Gomez will address the class of 2018 at Catholic’s 129th annual Commencement Ceremony on May 12th.

Gomez, who will receive an honorary fine arts doctoral degree, currently serves as archbishop of the largest archdiocese in the United States and as the vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Born in Monterrey, Mexico, he has been a prominent supporter on behalf of immigrants, encouraging Catholics to advocate for an extension to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in recent months. Gomez is a member of Catholic’s Board of Trustees, and will be the first clergy member to deliver the commencement address since Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke to the class of 2012.

In the announcement, university President John Garvey expressed delight in the prospect of the archbishop speaking to this year’s graduates.

“His efforts on behalf of immigrants, in particular those in the DACA program, are significant,” Garvey said. “It’s important that our graduates and their families will hear from such a prominent voice in the immigration debate.

The choice comes during a year in which the university has shown much support for foreign students and those potentially affected by DACA. Last September, Garvey issued a statement responding to the ending of the DACA program, noting that elimination without comprehensive reform would be a serious harm to the country and the thousands affected. Then last November, the university decided to waive a semester’s worth of tuition and fees for up to forty Puerto Rican students who wished to continue their own education on the mainland. Students commented on Archbishop Gomez’s background and thoughts on this ongoing situation.

“I like that he always speaks about the central role of the family in society and that he clearly sees simplicity as a way to be close to the Lord,” said senior Maria Flores. “He is also Mexican, as am I, so I am looking forward to hearing someone who has a similar background to me speak!”

Senior Justin Andreani hopes the address won’t be too political.

“I believe the story of his life will be very inspirational and what he discusses will probably carry a great message,” Andreani said. “I do worry a little, though, that if he talks about immigration that might spark a political debate among families who have divided opinions.”

Full story at The Tower.