Commencement Speaker

His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze

The Ave Maria School of Law 2014 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient will be His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Cardinal Arinze was considered a possible successor to Pope John Paul II in 2005, and he was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict in 2013, Cardinal Arinze was again one of the most often-named papabili. In 1965, Cardinal Arinze was appointed to the titular church of Fissiana and named coadjutor to the Archbishop of Onitsha. In August of that year, he was consecrated bishop at the age of 32, becoming the youngest Bishop in the world. Only two years after he was asked to take over the pastoral government of the archdiocese, he was named Archbishop of Onitsha. He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of May 1985, of the Title of the Suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni. He was also appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

As cardinal, he presided in the capacity of first President Delegate at the solemn closing of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops at the altar of the Chair of St. Peter’s Basilica in 1994. On October 24, 1999, he received a gold medallion from the International Council of Christians and Jews for his outstanding achievements in inter-faith relations.

In 2002, Cardinal Arinze was nominated Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In April of that year, he was advanced to Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, which had been vacated by the ascension of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy. Upon his retirement in 2008, he assumed his current role as Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Student Commencement Speaker

Ms. Mayra Talarico

Ms. Mayra Talarico graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Political Science. After graduation she held positions with the Economic Crimes Division for the Florida State Attorney General, as a State Probation officer with the Department of Corrections, and as a Criminal Investigator with the Florida Department of Health. After four years at home as a stay-at-home mom, which she describes as "the hardest job on earth," Ms. Talarico began her studies at Ave Maria School of Law.

Ms. Talarico excelled academically and was an active participant in student life. In the St. Thomas More Moot Court Competition, a competition involving the entire first year class, she was one of four finalists. Building on that success, she was selected as a member of the Moot Court in her second year and joined the Moot Court Board in her third year as Vice President of Events. Ms. Talarico was selected to represent the Law School in two national moot court competitions: the Leroy R. Hassell, Sr., National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition in October 2012 and the American Bar Association National Moot Court Competition in March 2014. In addition to her involvement with the Moot Court, Ms. Talarico served as the President of the Women’s Law Association during her second year.

While in law school, Ms. Talarico completed three internships: for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida during her first summer, as a certified legal intern for the State Attorney’s office 20th Judicial circuit in her second summer, and last fall for the Liberty Counsel, a non-profit organization that defends religious freedom and the right to life, her favorite internship.

Ms. Talarico also volunteers as a Spanish Interpreter for the Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic and as a Children’s Ministry Teacher for Calvary Chapel in Naples.