Rolheiser receives honorary degree

Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Fr. Ron Rolheiser

April 23, 2012

OTTAWA – If you dream your dream alone, you may make a splash but you will not make a real difference in people's lives, said Father Ron Rolheiser.

Rolheiser told the story of the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Eugene de Mazenod, who dreamed of serving the poor.

De Mazenod fell ill and realized that if he died, his dream would die with him, he said. So when he recovered, he founded a community, which then sent missionaries around the world.

Rolheiser received an honorary doctorate from Saint Paul University April 13.

After accepting the award, the former long-time professor at Edmonton's Newman Theological College told graduates to dream in community if they want to make a difference in peoples' lives.


He urged people to gather in community to watch the news together, rather than sitting alone and feeling helpless at the poverty and violence we see. A Church that watched the news together all over the world could change the world, he said.

President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, Rolheiser is among the world's most popular writers on contemporary spirituality, with nine books and a weekly syndicated column that appears in more than 60 newspapers.

Rolheiser said when he was growing up in Saskatchewan everyone went to church. "You had to be a deviant not to go to church." Today, you're a deviant if you go to Church he said.

Parishes are no longer neighbourhood communities, he said. "People treat churches like family: We want you around, but not much. Not every Sunday, but Christmas and Easter."

People saying, "I'm spiritual but I don't go to church," is similar to saying, "I love my family but I don't go home a lot," he said.