Honorary Degree Citation
Most Reverend Seán P. Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Boston
Doctor of Laws
Presented on this Eleventh Day of May, 2013
Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, Capuchin, educator, missionary, archbishop, healer for the Church, and visionary of a future of strong friendship in Christ throughout the world, Regis College welcomes you to our eighty-third commencement day exercises.
You learned the meaning of the priesthood at St. Fidelis Capuchin Seminary and embraced its patron’s zeal in preaching. You took your Master’s in Religious Education and taught at Catholic University, then working as Executive Director of the Centro Catolico Hispano in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and as episcopal vicar of priests serving Portuguese, Haitian, and Hispanic communities, returning to CU to take your doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese in 1978, with a dissertation on the Spanish mystics, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila. You love Teresa’s comparison of prayer, which aims at capturing the King of Heaven, to the game of chess, with the leading strategy being humility in the knight, the rook, and the royal alike. Pastoral experience soon taught you a rule of that game—The bishop may move on the diagonal— as Bishop of St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands (1984–92), then Bishop of Fall River, Massachusetts (1992–2002), Palm Beach, Florida (2002–2003), and finally, Archbishop of Boston (2003–present).
In July, 2003, when you first arrived in greater Boston, you began listening to people, preaching the Word of God, and meeting with victims of clerical sexual abuse, relating their suffering to the “wounds in the body of Christ” and telling them that “inexorably” the Church would not be healed until they were. You met Regis women who worked with you to repair the Church and visited our campus in May, 2004, to celebrate our Baccalaureate Liturgy and speak of Christ’s love and forgiveness in the theme of “amnesty.” During the next ten years, you worked more through an authoritative mutuality and relationship than a top-down string of imperatives, more through a series of thoughtful decisions and quiet pastoral initiatives than occasional flourishes of power. You led the greater Boston community of faith in implementing fiscal transparency; overseeing peaceful pastoral planning toward parish collaboratives; forming and empowering an expert and interfaith review board; sharing the knowledge gained with Ireland. With regard to the protection of children and young people, your support of survivors; commitment to a zero tolerance policy; upholding of the priority of child safety education; open communication with civil authorities; pursuit of due process; and leadership in the USCCB audit have made a significant contribution to restoring trust in the Archdiocese.
Included in your many notable achievements are successful efforts to reinvigorate Catholic schools, re-structure Catholic hospitals, employ women in management and consultative positions, provide outreach to faithful and hardworking archdiocesan priests and invigorate vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI made you a Cardinal and fittingly assigned you a Carmelite titular parish in Rome. You still joined the Regis College Haiti Project Advisory Board in 2010 and continued to visit campus to celebrate our Presidential Catholic Scholarship students from area high schools. In 2012 you led an ecumenical effort to protect life and helped Massachusetts citizens to defeat Question Two on physician-assisted suicide. With priests, religious women and men, and the laity, you have been taking a struggling twentieth-century bricks-and-mortar Archdiocese of Boston and shaping its avenues of spirit not only for survival in the twenty-first century but for more mindful communication of the Good News. Pope Francis wants you to bring those insights and skills to the universal Church as you join a group of eight Cardinals advising him on governance and the ecclesial document, Pastor Bonus, meant to communicate the work of the Good Shepherd to the people of faith around the world. In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing in April, you welcomed pastors from every faith, Massachusetts political leaders, and the President of the United States to the Cathedral, raising your arms over the whole community of greater Boston in a blessing of light and peace.
Your Eminence, Seán P. Cardinal O’Malley, OFM, Cap., Archbishop of Boston, our good shepherd, spiritual brother to Regis College founded and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, for your “excellence with gentleness” in outstanding contributions to the worlds of education, social healing, and the life of faith, Regis College is pleased during this Year of Faith and the tenth anniversary of your episcopate in Boston to bestow upon you, with gratitude, deep respect and affection, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.