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Four Jesuits Receive Honorary Degrees

Four Jesuits from the New England Province were honored by several Catholic and Jesuit universities during the 2012 commencement season.  Schools invited Jesuits both to give commencement addresses to inspire the graduating students and also to receive honorary degrees in recognition of their accomplishments and work.

Fr. James Martin, SJFr. James Martin, SJ, receives an honorary degree and speaks to the graduating class of 2012 at St. Louis University's commencement exercises.

St. Joseph's University (SJU)  granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Fr. James Martin, SJ during its May 12 commencement at the school's Maguire Campus in Philadelphia. John W. Smithson, interim president, commented, "As the author of numerous, best-selling books, and as the culture editor of America, Fr. Martin brings Ignatian tenets to life for his readers in both practical and profound ways," and called Fr. Martin "highly deserving of this recognition."  Fr. Martin gave the commencement address to the graduating class of 2012.

St. Louis University (SLU) awarded Fr. Martin an honorary degree on May 19 at their St. Louis, Missouri campus.  Fr. Martin, author of "Between Heaven and Mirth" which focuses on the role of humor and joy in spirituality, took cues from his book's topic in addressing the class of 2012.  His message: "Lighten Up!," or more eloquently, "Joy, humor, and laughter are under-appreciated virtues in the spiritual life and represent an essential element in one's own relationship with God."   Watch his commencement address on YouTube and see photographs on Fr. Martin's Facebook page.

Just two days later Immaculata University, a Catholic school sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Immaculata, Pennsylvania, also honored Fr. Martin.  Immaculata presented him with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) before he addressed their graduating class of 949 students.

Fr. James Martin is an author of several books on Ignatian spirituality and an associate editor at America magazine, a national Catholic publication.  He also blogs at "In All Things" and is a 1982 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

Fr. Joseph Appleyard, SJ

Fr. Joe Appleyard, SJ, receives an honorary doctorate from Boston College on May 21, 2012.Boston College honored Fr. Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, socius for the New England Province, for his lifelong contributions to the university and the Society of Jesus.  Fr. Appleyard served at Boston College for 43 years, starting in 1967 in a variety of teaching and leadership positions.  He receiving his bachelor's degree from Boston College in 1953 and was the university's first Vice President for University Mission and Ministry, strengthening the school's Jesuit and Catholic identity. 

Boston College cited his work, saying: "he made several highly valued contributions to Boston College, enhancing its Jesuit, Catholic mission and articulating the intellectual framework for the University’s approach to student formation and engagement of faculty and staff. He impressed colleagues and students alike with his intelligence, kindness, generosity and dedication to his faith and Jesuit vocation."   He was presented with the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa at the commencement exercises on Monday, May 21.


Fr. Michael McFarland, SJ

Fr. Michael McFarland, SJ, received an honorary degree from College of the Holy Cross where he previously served as university President on May 25, 2012.31st President of College of the Holy Cross, Fr. Michael McFarland, SJ, was among the university's honorary degree receipients this year.  Fr. McFarland, who was much beloved on campus, retired in January after 12 years heading up the Jesuit university in Worcester, Mass.   Fr. McFarland is now a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California

"I am deeply humbled and honored at being chosen to receive an honorary degree," said Fr. McFarland during an interview. "During my time at Holy Cross, we accomplished a lot because of the extraordinary work of so many dedicated and talented people there. This honor is for them more than for me."  During his tenure as university president, he led Holy Cross through rapid and progressive change—from dramatic campus construction and record-setting fundraising to student diversity and significant community partnerships.

The honorary degree was conferred at the university's 166th commencement exercises on May 25.

Fr. Richard Clifford, SJ

Fr. Richard Clifford, SJ, receives an honorary degree at Fairfield University, 2012.Fairfield University recognized Fr. Richard J. Clifford, SJ, a revered scholar, prolific writer and founding dean of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry at Fairfield's 62nd commencement exercises on May 20. Fr. Clifford, a native of Lewiston, Maine, is Professor of Old Testament at Boston College and is also a well-published scholarly author. Fairfield University President Fr.Jeffrey P. von Arx, SJ, (photo, at right) presented Fr. Clifford (photo, left) with his honorary doctorate.


For a list of commencement speakers and honorary degrees at Jesuit colleges and universities across the country visit the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities website.

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