SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 – Georgetown University conferred an honorary degree upon Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., for his “extraordinary example of faith and service” during a ceremony last night in historic Gaston Hall.
“In his service to the Church … Cardinal Wuerl has opened the doors of the Church, welcoming new and returning believers,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said during the ceremony. “And he has gone out in his pastoral ministry to meet people where they are, to invite them [to] find a home in the Church.”
REJOICE IN THE MOMENT
Wuerl received his Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Washington and the 225th anniversary of the selection of Georgetown’s founder John Carroll as the first bishop in the United States.
“In this year … the archdiocese commemorates its 75th anniversary, manifesting the kingdom of God on the shores of the Potomac,” Wuerl said during his address to members of the Georgetown and local Catholic communities. “We celebrate the past but we rejoice in the present moment, and with you we also turn to the future.”
UNITY THROUGH EDUCATION
Wuerl said the Catholic Church and its educational institutions create unity among people and work to bring people to a relationship with God.
Wuerl cited a letter written in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV, who defined a Catholic university as being “dedicated to research, to teaching and to the education of students who freely associate with their teachers in a common love of knowledge.”
“Foundational to Georgetown University are those characteristics referred to in that letter,” he explained. “…The Church and those institutions, such as this university, that grow out of the heart of the Church exist to provide a structured context where all can experience what it means to say each one of us has a relationship with God. Therefore because of that we share a bond with one another.”
DEEP COMMITMENT TO MINISTRY
Ordained a bishop in 1986 by Pope John Paul II, Wuerl served as a bishop in Seattle and Pittsburgh before his Washington, D.C., appointment in 2006.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI elevated Wuerl to the College of Cardinals in 2010, and Wuerl participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis in March 2013.
“Throughout his lifetime, Cardinal Wuerl has demonstrated a deep commitment to his catechetical and teaching ministry,” Paul Tagliabue, chair of the Georgetown University Board of Directors, read from the citation awarded to the archbishop, “to compassion for the poor, to making Catholic education accessible to countless individuals, to the moral imperative of religious liberty in a pluralistic society.”