Dominic Sheahan-Stahl tells Mount Pleasant community to ‘live through love’ during speech at CMU
Sunday was supposed to be the day the oldest Sheahan-Stahl son spoke at his alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy, for the final family graduation of the youngest son, William.
Instead, Dominic Sheahan-Stahl, disinvited as speaker for being openly gay, stood in front of a packed Plachta Auditorium Sunday, giving his “Live Through Love Commencement Speech” for the Mount Pleasant community. Sheahan-Stahl gave the original speech he had planned to give at William’s graduation later that afternoon.
Sheahan-Stahl asked the audience, a mix of young and old, to choose faith over fear.
“Fear: The key thing that holds most people back from their dreams,” he said. “My motto in life is ‘dream, believe, become,’ because if you believe it, you can become it.”
His speech opened with members of the Sacred Heart class of 2012 marching down the aisles to a standing ovation. Most of the senior class was there in support, with a few exceptions.
“The ones that didn’t come had family obligations,” said Joel Parker, Sacred Heart class of 2012. “All of us agreed that we supported (him).”
Sheahan-Stahl told seniors their lives are their own to be lived with their own direction, time and pace. No one is outside the love of God, he said, thanking them for choosing love over fear.
“I was supposed to be inspiring you,” he said. “But you have inspired me, this community and the world.”
Through tears, Sheahan-Stahl told the story of how William was born while their dad was having health complications, which eventually led to his passing. William was a “miracle baby,” Sheahan-Stahl said, one he thanked God for every day.
When Sheahan-Stahl was visiting home one Thanksgiving, baby William had stayed up late so he would not miss seeing his big brother.
“(William) said, ‘I don’t want to close my eyes, because I’m afraid you’ll be gone,’” Sheahan-Stahl said. “I’m never going to be gone. I love you more than words can describe.”
Sheahan-Stahl ended his speech by singing the same song he sang at his own Sacred Heart graduation – “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” by Simon and Garfunkel.
Mount Pleasant resident Jeanne Pfeiffer said she loved the speech, praising Sheahan-Stahl’s singing.
“It’s too bad it had to happen this way, but otherwise it probably wouldn’t have gotten so much publicity,” she said. “It’s a good thing in a way.”
Anne Groves, family friend of the Sheahan-Stahls, sold T-shirts and bracelets that read, “Live Through Love” at the door. The profit will fund a new scholarship for gay students, she said.
“This is to start a $1,000 scholarship for students who are out and looking to go to college,” Groves said.
Sheahan-Stahl said the first person to buy a shirt was University President George Ross.
Principal Dennis Starnes, who supported Sheahan-Stahl and said he would attend the speech, did not come because of the timing, he said.
“I wanted to, but I hadn’t expected the speech to be a few hours before graduation,” Starnes said. “I had to set up. I talked to Dominic about it.”
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