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Catholic Theological Union Confers Three Honorary Doctorates at 44th Commencement Ceremony

May 21, 2012

Catholic Theological Union honored Mr. Terry G. Hillard, the Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, and Friar Louis John Vitale, O.F.M., at its 44th Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 17, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. The ceremony is held each year at K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago. Nearly one hundred graduates received certificates or Master level degrees in the areas of Biblical Ministry, Pastoral Studies, Theology, Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

Honorary Degrees are conferred annually by the faculty and Board of Trustees upon individuals who have made great contributions to the fields of scholarship and service to which Catholic Theological Union is committed.

Terry G. Hillard, decorated Marine Corps veteran and retired Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters.

Renowned for his commitment to patrol officers on the street and the creation of several crime prevention programs, Mr. Hillard was credited with developing stronger relationships between police officers and the communities they serve. During his tenure he introduced a new Domestic Violence Program and an enhanced Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) Program, as well as the Enhanced Drug and Gang Enforcement Program.

A longtime champion of the importance of integrity and ethics in law enforcement, Mr. Hillard received numerous commendations for his service to the Chicago Police Department, including the Superintendent’s Award of Valor, the Police Blue Star Award, and the CPD’s highest award, the Police Medal. Click here to watch video.

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who currently serves as Associate Professor of Theology at Marquette University and Professor at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Theology.

Committed to education in the areas of Catholic social thought, liberation theologies, African-American religious ethics, and racial justice, Fr. Massingale’s recent work focuses on Catholic perspectives on affirmative action, responses to terrorism, racial reconciliation, environmental justice, HIV/AIDS stigma, and racism post-Katrina and post-Obama. He has authored more than 60 articles, book chapters, and book reviews, including his most recent work, a book titled Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (Orbis 2010), which received a First Place Book Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States.

He has received numerous honors, including Project Equality’s “Religious Momentum” Award for his efforts in promoting diversity within the Catholic Church, as well as honors from Fairfield University and Cardinal Stritch University for his advocacy for social justice and his work for the inclusion of the socially marginalized. Click here to watch video.

Friar Louis John Vitale, O.F.M., a Franciscan priest and peace activist who has lived and served in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Ministry.

For more than 10 years Friar Vitale served as pastor of a Catholic church in San Francisco, opening its doors to the homeless in the Tenderloin neighborhood, a practice that continues today. He holds a Doctorate in Sociology from UCLA, with an emphasis on social movements, and has taught classes at colleges and universities throughout the western states.

Friar Vitale has traveled extensively speaking on the moral dimensions of torture and the importance of nonviolence and peacemaking. Friar Vitale co-founded the Nevada Desert Experience, a movement committed to ending nuclear testing, and Pace e Bene, which transforms lives through education, resources, and nonviolent action for social change. For nearly 40 years he has been engaged in efforts to eliminate war and the use of nuclear weapons, torture, and drones. Click here to watch video.