WESTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley gave the commencement address and received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Regis College at commencement ceremonies, May 11.
The cardinal entered the tent set up for the commencement with the procession of staff and faculty, ahead of more than 550 students across a spectrum of degrees ranging from associate to doctoral degrees.
As special assistant to the president of Regis College M.J. Doherty read the citation, she commended Cardinal O'Malley for his work as a teacher at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., as a missionary Capuchin priest, and as a bishop and later archbishop.
She commended the cardinal's work in Boston as that of a healer after arriving in 2003.
"During the next 10 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," Doherty said.
"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 10th anniversary of your episcopate in Boston to bestow upon you, with gratitude, deep respect and affection, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa," she said.
She also commended his appointment to an advisory group of cardinals to Pope Francis in Rome and his ecumenical and interfaith leadership in Boston after bombings at the Boston Marathon in April.
"When I was told I was getting the honorary degree, I did not realize it was going to be a doctorate in law. I won't be able to tell anymore of those lawyer jokes," the cardinal joked, as he opened the commencement address.
He encouraged students to use the foundation of the education they received at Regis College to follow the vision of the Sisters of St. Joseph to become leaders in society, their professions, and the Church.
He also thanked Regis College's president.
"We are all blessed by the very capable manner in which Dr. Antoinette Hays refines the Regis mission for today's world by holding fast to the timeless principles on which the college was founded. I am honored to be added to the ranks of those who have received honorary degrees from Regis College," Cardinal O'Malley said.
In his address the cardinal recounted stories from his experience working for justice in various ministries within the Church, and encouraged graduates to work to promote Church social justice teachings as part of their Catholic identity.
"We learn discipleship the way we learn a language, by being a part of a community that speaks that language," he said.
He said the Church has a continuing and past history of being persecuted for its teachings.
"The amazing thing is that historically the Church was persecuted mostly for the truths that we talked about: Christ and the Church. The controversies were Arianism, or transubstantiation, or papal infallibility. Today the attacks directed at the Church are directed at our teachings concerning the dignity of the human person, the sacredness of life, the importance of marriage, and all the prerogatives that flow from being made in the image and likeness of God, placed on this earth to build a civilization of love," the cardinal said.