The Baccalaureate Liturgy, a longstanding Catholic college tradition, is celebrated at Emmanuel on the day before Commencement.

Faculty and graduating seniors process in full academic attire into this event which is a celebration of and thanksgiving for lives dedicated to learning and wisdom.

The baccalaureate service derives from the medieval European custom of presenting the candidates for the degree of Bachelor (bacca) with laurels (lauri) of sermonic oration. It is believed to have originated at the University of Oxford in 1432 when each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of academic requirements. Since the earliest universities in America were founded primarily to educate ministers, the British practice of the baccalaureate service was continued.