Oct. 29, 2001
At Awards Banquet, Cardinal Dulles Says CUA Can Be ‘Flagship’
Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and 10 other alumni of Catholic University were celebrated at Catholic University’s annual Alumni Achievement Awards banquet, held last Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Dulles, a former faculty member of CUA who today is known as one of the nation’s most preeminent Catholic theologians, was awarded The Catholic University of America Alumni Association’s highest honor, the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal.
“I can think of no greater honor that The Catholic University of America could bestow upon me than the Cardinal Gibbons Medal, especially when I hear the names of some of the previous recipients, who have held the highest positions in Church and State,” Cardinal Dulles said after accepting the award, which previously has gone to the likes of President John F. Kennedy, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “I would like to think that in choosing to confer this award upon me, The Catholic University of America is expressing its commitment to the priority of theology, to the principles of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and to the renewal of religious studies along lines that are both faithful to the Catholic tradition and appropriate to the needs of our day.”
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington and chancellor of the university, attended the festivities, which attracted more than 250 alumni, faculty and friends of CUA.
Other prominent alumni who received awards included Baltimore’s much-lauded mayor, NASA’s second in command and one of the nation’s leading choral conductors. The cardinal’s comments follow below, along with a complete list of award recipients.
Remarks by Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., Upon the Presentation of
The James Cardinal Gibbons Medal
The Catholic University of America
October 27, 2001
“I was introduced as ‘the first American Jesuit to become a Cardinal.’ I hope I am not the last.
I can think of no greater honor that The Catholic University of America could bestow upon me than the Cardinal Gibbons Medal, especially when I hear the names of some of the previous recipients, who have held the highest positions in Church and State. The award and the Homecoming Weekend that we are now celebrating remind me of my very happy association with The Catholic University of America during the years from 1974 to 1988. Father Walter Burghardt, S.J., and I were graciously invited to join the faculty by President Clarence Walton and Father Colman Barry, O.S.B., Dean of the School of Religious Studies. I eagerly accepted with the encouragement of my religious superiors. It was a memorable August day driving with Father Burghardt from New York to Washington. There was a truck behind us and it was overloaded, so much so that we had a flat tire and were late arriving!
At that time this university had what was generally regarded, I believe, as the finest faculty of religious studies this side of the Atlantic – a reputation which I believe it need never cease to enjoy! The existence of strong departments of biblical studies, church history, canon law and religious education alongside of theology makes it possible to obtain from one’s colleagues expert advice on a vast number of questions. It was one community of mutual support, especially among those who lived on campus and ate in Curley Hall.
The student body was and, I presume, still is of the highest quality, including religious, diocesan priests, seminarians and laity. The close proximity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides a mutually beneficial relationship between the university and the hierarchy. The houses of study of so many religious orders and, today, the presence of the John Paul II Cultural Center are additional advantages.
When I came here in the early 1970s, the Church was still struggling through the first decade after the Second Vatican Council. There was, as yet, considerable uncertainty about the interpretation of the council. It was a time when many theories were being floated and tried out.
We are today in a different phase of our theological history. The interpretation of the council has been clarified and many doubts have been resolved by the magisterium of the present Holy Father, assisted by the Roman Congregations and by regular meetings with cardinals and bishops from all over the world. The apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae has given sound and prophetic guidelines for the renewal of Catholic education.
I believe that the present period of consolidation gives special timeliness to the kind of theology that an ecclesiastical university such as this is uniquely qualified to offer. Your President, Father David O’Connell, C.M., has show courage and eagerness in seeking to implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, including the mandatum required of teachers of theological disciplines. This university, with the support of the American bishops, is in an excellent position to be a flagship for the renewal of Catholic higher education in the United States. It is time for Catholic universities to set their own course, with less dependence on the prevalent model set by American secular universities, and greater fidelity to Catholic models provided by the Roman universities, the Catholic universities of the past and present in other countries, and the kind of institution described in Cardinal Newman’s classic work, “The Idea of a University.” These traditional models show how theology can escape from the margins and once again hold a truly central place among the disciplines, entering into lively dialogue with the humanities and the social and natural sciences, as it should in any Catholic university.
I would like to think that in choosing to confer this award upon me, The Catholic University of America is expressing its commitment to the priority of theology, to the principles of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and to the renewal of religious studies along lines that are both faithful to the Catholic tradition and appropriate to the needs of our day.
Thank you so very much.”
2001 Alumni Achievement Award recipients
· Brig. Gen. William T. Bester, of Springfield, Va., chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, for
his work in nursing.
· The Rev. Walter J. Burghardt, of Washington, D.C., senior research fellow at the
Woodstock Theological Center, for his work in pastoral service.
· Dr. Anthony P. DeSpirito, of Ocean Township, N.J., director of the Child Evaluation
Center at Jersey Shore Medical Center, for his work in medical arts.
· Monsignor Thomas J. McSweeney, of Great Falls, Va., religion analyst for NBC and
MSNBC, for his work in public information.
· Daniel R. Mulville, of Vienna, Va., associate deputy administrator of NASA, for his work
in architecture, engineering and invention.
· Mayor Martin O’Malley, of Baltimore, Md., for his work in government and politics.
· Robert Shafer, of Clifton, Va., music director for the Washington Chorus, for his work in
creative and performing arts.
· Judge Charles A. Shaw, of St. Louis, Mo., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri, for his work in law and the courts.
· Jessie Tellis-Nayak, of India, founder of the Women’s Institute for New Awakening
based in Bangalore, India, for her work in social service.
· Monsignor John F. Wippel, of Silver Spring, Md., one of the world’s leading scholars in the
philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, for his work in research and scholarship.
The awards banquet was one of the highlights of the Oct. 26 to 28 Homecoming Weekend at Catholic University. In addition to the banquet, weekend events included a Hall of Fame induction ceremony for former CUA athletes and a reunion for the classes of 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996.
Revised: March 27, 2001
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The Catholic University of America,
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