Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2000
MacNeil honoured by U of A college
It's the fifth honorary degree for retired archbishop
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Retired Edmonton Archbishop Joseph MacNeil can now add a doctorate in divinity to his many other degrees.
On March 29, St. Stephen College, an ecumenical college at the University of Alberta, honoured the archbishop by conferring upon him the degree of doctor of divinity, honoris causa.
Some 125 guests, including Senator Douglas Roche, Father Mike McCaffery, Msgr. Bill Irwin and members of several archdiocesan commissions, attended the ceremony at the university's Faculty Club.
The degree was conferred upon MacNeil in recognition of his spirit of openness, ecumenical sensitivity and community leadership.
"He represents for the college the kind of openness to the ecumenical spirit that our college is based upon," said St. Stephen's principal Christopher Levan. "He represents the best of Roman Catholic openness to new issues. He's been a friend of the college for a number of years."
The degree was conferred upon MacNeil by St. Stephen's co-chancellors Hugh and Lynda Robertson, academic dean Earle Sharam and former Alberta senator, Jean Forest, a member of the college's council and former University of Alberta chancellor.
The degree was to be presented at the college's convocation in October but the archbishop was unable to attend.
Forest paid an extensive tribute to MacNeil for years of remarkable service, saying during his tenure the archbishop has shown "outstanding leadership as churchman, theologian, teacher and citizen."
She also praised MacNeil for his sense of humour, which she said "is an added measure of the depth of his humanity."
"His wit has made his wisdom more acceptable, more readily welcome," Forest said. "It has enabled him to do what he has been called to do and to become the person he has been called to be for the people of God in this community."
MacNeil accepted the degree with his characteristic humility, saying only that, "This is an experience I won't easily forget."
This is the fifth honorary degree MacNeil has received in the last 22 years. He has honorary doctorates in law from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. (1978), St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. (1980), and the University of Alberta (1982).
Last year he also received an honorary doctorate in medieval studies from the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto.
MacNeil served as archbishop of Edmonton from 1973 until his retirement in June of last year.