[CUA Office of Public Affairs]           

May 12, 2003


Covenant House President to Speak at CUA Commencement

Sr. Mary Rose McGeady Leads Largest Privately Funded Youth Assistance Agency in U.S.


The Catholic University of America will confer more than 1,300 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees during its 114th Annual Commencement Ceremony to be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 17, on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E.


Sister Mary Rose McGeady, president and CEO of Covenant House, will deliver the commencement address. It will be one of the last speeches she delivers before retiring in June.


Sister McGeady, one of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, took over the reins of Covenant House in 1990. The New York City-based charity has been providing shelter and assistance to homeless youth for three decades. Started in a small Manhattan apartment, Covenant House is now the largest privately funded youth assistance agency in the United States, providing food, shelter, clothing and crisis care. It annually helps about 60,000 youth, operates shelters in 15 U.S. cities and five countries, and offers services such as health care, vocational training, drug treatment and prevention, and transitional living programs.


McGeady is credited with stepping in and saving the organization in a time of crisis.


When she came onboard in 1990, the non-profit was $38 million in debt and struggling to regain public trust in the wake of a scandal attached to its prior management, reported the February 2003 St. Anthony Messenger. Thirteen years later, McGeady has put the charity back in the black — with an annual budget of $110 million — and has doubled the number of people served. During her watch, the number of cities offering Covenant House facilities has increased from 12 to 21.  Covenant House also has expanded its programs to include job training and placement for older adolescents and an apartment program aimed at helping young people re-enter their communities.


McGeady’s work rescuing young people “has also rescued Covenant House,” wrote the Associated Press in a 2002 profile.


McGeady came to Covenant House from her position as associate executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. Her professional career in human services and caring for homeless and disturbed children and their families spans approximately 40 years.


She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass., and her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Fordham University in New York City.


Her professional career began at Boston’s Nazareth Child Care Center, where she worked with the homeless and with disturbed children and their families. She was later named provincial of the Northeast Province of the Daughters of Charity, overseeing nine hospitals, 17 schools and five child-care agencies in 11 states. 


CUA will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters to McGeady during the commencement ceremony.


Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, who earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from CUA in 1969, also will receive an honorary doctorate — in education.  Gaffney, who currently is the senior uniformed oceanography specialist in the U.S. Navy, is set to retire from the military this summer after more than 30 years of service in such key positions as commanding officer of the Naval Research Laboratory and commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. In July 2000, Gaffney became president of the National Defense University in Washington, the nation’s premier military education institute for civilian and military leaders. The following year, President George W. Bush named him to the National Ocean Policy Commission. Gaffney will take on a new role in civilian life later this year: he has been selected as the new president of Monmouth University of West Long Branch, New Jersey.


Monsignor Robert Paul Mohan, professor emeritus of philosophy and a four-time alumnus of CUA, will be awarded the President’s Medal, the university’s highest honor, for his distinguished scholarship and 52 years of faithful service to the university. A native of Wilkes Barre, Pa., and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington since 1946, Monsignor Mohan has been a member of the faculty in the School of Philosophy from 1951 until his official retirement in 1990. Named the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s “Professor of the Year” for the District of Columbia in 1990, he has continued to teach philosophy at CUA through this year.


California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown will be the speaker at the commencement ceremony of Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, which will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 24, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. About 290 law students will receive their degrees at the ceremony.


Brown will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the ceremony.


Outstanding students will be lauded during the Honors Convocation at 2 p.m. on May 16. The Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., president, will be the official celebrant and homilist during the Baccalaureate Mass at the National Shrine at 4 p.m. on May 16.  


For more information about commencement, visit http://graduation.cua.edu/. To watch the ceremony live over the Internet, visit: http://graduation.cua.edu/video.


Media must notify the CUA Office of Public Affairs if they plan to cover the McGeady commencement address. For information or to register, contact Chris Harrison at 202-319-5600 (office), 202-352-7585 (cell) or e-mail: cua-public-affairs@cua.edu.   





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Revised: 2/11/2003

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The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.