Conferral of Degrees
May 25, 2013
Solemn Vespers with the conferral of academic degrees from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception was held on May 17, 2013 in the Chapel of the Priory of the Immaculate Conception. The Faculty was pleased to welcome His Excellency Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, who preached at the ceremony. In addition, the Faculty was honored to confer a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (honoris causa) on His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. Below is the text of the homily of H.E. Archbishop Viganò. I am delighted to be here at this House of Studies of the Dominicans. Thank you, Father Boguslawski, for your kind invitation to be a part of this joyous occasion, the conferral of academic degrees. My best wishes and congratulations to those receiving degrees and your families and friends, all the students, administration, faculty and staff of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, and the Dominican Friars of the Province of Saint Joseph. I am particularly pleased as His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the chief pastor of the Church of Washington, is honored with a Doctorate honoris causa. It was seven years ago yesterday, May 16th, that His Eminence was appointed the Metropolitan Archbishop. We recognize the great generosity and fidelity with which he fulfills his episcopal ministry, particularly as the teacher of the faith. This was most clearly evident in his work as the relator for the recent Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Now, Your Eminence, isn’t this the second doctorate you have from the Dominicans? This one should have special meaning – as you are in good company with all those receiving degrees today – especially as this is the largest number conferred by this Pontifical Faculty since it became a free standing institution! Congratulations to you, Your Eminence. Over the years, the ministry of this Faculty and Community through its academic, spiritual and pastoral formation has had a great impact on the life of the Church in the United States and throughout the world. The new academic center, dedicated by my predecessor, Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, is evidence of the vitality of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, a renewed commitment to a strong theological formation for pastoral service, and a strengthening of the mission of the Order in the life of the Church. A special recognition is given to the President, Father Steven Boguslawski, and the Academic Dean, Father Gabriel O’Donnell, who are completing their term of office. Thank you for your devoted service and for the example of such dedication over the years. Also, welcome to Father John Langlois, and Father Thomas Petri, the newly appointed President, and Dean. The academic degrees received today are not only an educational achievement. They also demonstrate a unique preparation for your service to the ecclesial community. It is the vision of Saint Dominic, who in responding to the needs of the Church during his time, provides the characteristics of this foundation. The Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception continues to draw from and teach the distinctively Dominican approach to theology to meet the pastoral demands of the Church today. This vision of Saint Dominic is expressed in the motto of the Order, used from the time of Dominic himself – veritas – truth. To convert minds and hearts to Christ through preaching and teaching, Saint Dominic emphasized the study of revealed truth. This was not purely an academic exercise. It is united with prayer and contemplation, and joined together form a sustained encounter with Christ. In this way, one comes to possess and pass on a knowledge that is not mere doctrinal propositions but a personal and living experience of the mystery of salvation. This is best expressed by the great Dominican teacher, St. Thomas Aquinas: to contemplate and to give to others the fruits of contemplation. During these days between the Ascension and the celebration of Pentecost this Sunday, Saint Paul reminds us, as we heard a few minutes ago in the reading from Galatians, “to live in accord with the Spirit.” The descent of the Spirit on the Apostles empowering them to proclaim the Gospel calls the Church into being in every time and place. The fruits of the Spirit are manifested by those who pour out their lives for the building up of the Body of Christ. In the life and spiritual teaching of the Dominican mystic, Saint Catherine of Siena, we see that there can be no knowledge of this Truth without love, and this love is a dynamic action. She said before she died: “…in leaving my body, truly I have consumed and given my life in the Church and for the Holy Church, which is for me a most unique grace.” For Catherine this dynamic action was living in the sweet First Truth, being converted and sanctified, and pouring out her life in service to that Truth in the Church. This past Tuesday, during his daily Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis invited those gathered to live life as a gift, not as a treasure to be kept for oneself, and not to fall into the temptation of egoism. Using the example of Mary Magdalene who poured out the expensive ointment to wash the feet of Jesus, His Holiness exhorted all to pour out their life for others, as Jesus did for us. To those receiving degrees today and to all the students, your study and contemplation of the Truth, and your love for the Truth poured out in pastoral service in the Church, will make the Gospel message come alive to engage and transform a society weighed down by egoism and selfishness. In this Year of Faith, commit yourselves to proclaiming the Truth with the very example of your lives and with your whole being to make known the Truth who is Christ himself and him as the true measure of mankind. Congratulations!