The founder of Mercy Beyond Borders, a global nonprofit group, urged the newest graduates of Saint Joseph’s College to go beyond their own borders, during the school’s graduation ceremony in Standish last week.

“Move across personal borders, cultural borders, geographic borders. Get lost,” Sister Marilyn Lacey told the class of 2011. “Live with joyous expectation of what’s around the next corner, especially if it surprises or stretches you.”

Lacey delivered the commencement address to 445 graduates and their guests in the Harold Alfond Center on May 14.

The graduating class included traditional, younger students who attended the liberal arts campus on Sebago Lake, and graduates of the college’s online programs that serve working professionals.

About half of the traditional students are from communities in Maine, while overall the graduates represented 37 states and two foreign countries.

The commencement ceremony began with a march across campus led by bagpiper Robert Gillis of Old Orchard Beach. Stephanie Cormier of Bow, N.H., delivered the valedictorian’s address.

Radio broadcaster and station owner Robert Fuller, a longtime Maine resident, was conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters. Fuller founded WBLM, and his radio stations have supported more than 1,000 service organizations, including United Way.

Lacey, whose commencement address drew a standing ovation, also received an honorary doctor of humane letters.

Lacey is the founder and executive director of Mercy Beyond Borders, a nonprofit that works with displaced women and children overseas to alleviate poverty and illness.

She told the graduates how she left a comfortable career as a math teacher to work with refugees, including by helping to resettle the Lost Boys of Sudan. The work taught her how to be grateful and engaged, and to take risks, she said.

“Refugees know that everything is a gift. They have lost so much. Just being alive is a gift. Having a friend is a gift. Having a loaf of bread is a gift,” Lacey said. “Pay attention to what energizes you, captures your imagination, stretches your heart. Find your passion and run with it. … Open doors, take risks, get lost into what is other than yourself.”

A native of California, Lacey has been a Sister of Mercy since 1966. Her memoir, “This Flowing Toward Me: A Story of God Arriving in Strangers,” was published in 2009.

The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Ireland by a woman who was committed to serving the sick and educating poor women and children. Saint Joseph’s College was founded to follow in the Sisters of Mercy tradition, first educating women only before becoming co-educational.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

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