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October, 2019

President Garvey at the Senators Club luncheon.

I said in my last column that November was going to be a busy travel month. It was. During the first week I went to New York to see the students in our orchestra perform at Carnegie Hall. A few days later I went to South Bend, Indiana, to watch our men’s basketball team take on the Fighting Irish. Though the venues were very different, both groups of students acquitted themselves well and enjoyed experiences that will stay with them for a long time. At both events I had the opportunity to meet university alumni. Another occasion for me to meet alumni came on November 8, when I attended, for the first time, the Senators Club luncheon on campus.

On November 10 I was pleased to participate in a ceremony organized by Provost James Brennan honoring three CUA faculty members for their outstanding teaching. Congratulations to  Rev. Frank Matera, professor of New Testament and the Andrews-Kelly-Ryan Professor of Biblical Studies; Claudia Bornholdt, associate professor of German; and Scott Mathews, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

On Monday, November 15, I had my first chance to give a report about Catholic University at a meeting of all the Catholic bishops of the United States during their fall session in Baltimore. Two days later I left for Rome with Vice President Frank Persico to witness the elevation of two of our distinguished alumni to the College of Cardinals — our Chancellor and Trustee Donald Wuerl and our former Trustee Raymond Burke. Though it was not my first trip to Rome, it was the first consistory I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. The ceremonies (there were two) were beautiful.

The day after our arrival in Rome I met with Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P., Secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education. I presented him with a copy of the University’s Annual Report as well as reports by our three pontifical faculties. Afterwards I met with Monsignor Peter Wells, an American who holds one of the highest positions in the Vatican’s Office of the Secretary of State. He gave me a tour of the Apostolic Palace, which is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been in my life.

In the evening I attended a reception at the U.S. embassy in honor of Cardinal-designates Burke and Wuerl. The host of the reception, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz, told me that he looks forward to coming to CUA on March 14 to deliver the Dean Hoge Memorial Lecture hosted by our Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies. At the reception I had the opportunity to chat with nearly all of the American cardinals living in Rome or the United States.  I had a great conversation with Cardinal James Stafford about a program for priestly formation that he is interested in establishing. It turns out he knows my sister Annette (who lives in Colorado) quite well from his time as the Archbishop of Denver. Small world.

Monsignor Kevin Irwin, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, Cardinal Raymond Burke, and President Garvey in Rome.
Saturday was given over to the consistory itself, followed by a reception at the North American College. That evening I hosted a small dinner for Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna; Eduardo Verástegui,  the Mexican actor who starred in the movie Bella; our Trustee Tim Busch; Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison; Monsignor Kevin Irwin, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies; and Frank Persico. Mr. Verástegui, who is deeply interested in promoting Catholic values in the acting profession, accepted my invitation to come to Catholic University to speak at some future date.

On Sunday I returned to St. Peter’s Basilica for the Mass of the Rings to witness the 24 new cardinals receive their rings from the Holy Father. After Mass I attended a lunch hosted by Tim Busch and met Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. St. Gianna was a physician who learned, in her second month of pregnancy with her fourth child, that she had a tumor in her uterus. She rejected medical advice that she abort her child to safeguard her own health. Subsequently Dr. Molla developed a serious infection. A week after Gianna Emanuela was born in April 1962, her mother succumbed to the infection. For this and other examples of her heroic witness to the faith, Dr. Molla was beatified in 1994 and canonized in 2004. It was extraordinary not only to meet the daughter of a saint but also to see what holiness can produce.

Sunday evening I attended a dinner hosted by our Trustee, Monsignor Walter Rossi, in honor of the two new American cardinals.

Monday morning Monsignor Irwin and I toured the facility in Rome that CUA shares with St. John’s University and that serves as the headquarters for our Rome program. At noon I met with Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, O.P., who is the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. We discussed our pontifical faculties and the state of Catholic higher education.

Thereafter I attended an intimate lunch at the North American College hosted by Cardinal Wuerl for members of his immediate family. It was followed by our Chancellor’s first public Mass as Cardinal at St. Peter’s Altar of the Chair.

Early Tuesday morning we left Rome for Philadelphia. There I attended a Philadelphia Leadership Network Dinner at the Union League Club hosted by CUA alumni Joe and Chris Carlini. The purpose of the dinner was to bring together successful CUA alumni living in the Philadelphia area to hear about future plans for the University and talk about how they might help their alma mater. About 25 alumni attended and heard remarks from sophomore Michael Brennan, the holder of the first Philadelphia Network Leadership Conference Scholarship, established last year to benefit a student from the Philadelphia area.

December is the first full month of the new liturgical year, a time when we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. That, as the saying goes, is the reason for the season, though over the years that particular “reason” has come to be obscured by worldly concerns and pursuits. At many universities, including ours, December is also a time of preparation for the end of the semester and of anticipation of final exams, most especially anticipation for them to be over.

To be sure, all that is on my radar screen. But I confess that I am also looking forward with great anticipation to the semester to come, for a number of reasons. Here are some of them.

We have already begun our strategic planning process. On November 17 I met with the Steering Committee, co-chaired by Provost James Brennan and Vice President Cathy Wood. The Committee will work with subgroups representing various parts of the University to discuss an emerging plan. We will hold a second meeting on December 1, and the agenda for the Spring 2011 semester is fairly well defined. A more detailed report to the University community will be sent out by Dr. Brennan and Ms. Wood before the end of classes. I believe we have made a solid start for this very important process, which will define the University’s direction over the next 10 years.

On January 25 I will be inaugurated as CUA’s 15th president in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Inaugurations are very big deals for universities. They are solemn occasions not just for the students, faculty, and staff of the university inaugurating a new president but also for the wider academic community. In addition to the bishops who sponsor this University, we will have among our guests at the inauguration Mass and installation delegates of other universities. EWTN-TV will broadcast the inauguration live to its viewers. I hope to use the occasion to make Catholic University better known and to draw upon our unique legacy as The Catholic University in the United States to lead a conversation about what it means to be a Catholic institution of higher learning in our world today. That is why I selected as the theme for my inaugural year “Intellect and Virtue: the Idea of a Catholic University.” As I have indicated before, the inspiration for this theme comes from Cardinal John Henry Newman, who was beatified earlier this year and is known by many for his 19th century work “The Idea of a University.”

My inaugural address will be only one voice in the conversation. During the Spring semester CUA will sponsor a number of events related to our theme. On Tuesday, January 18, I am hosting a faculty roundtable “What Faith Has to Do with Intellectual Life.” Six of our distinguished faculty members, from six of our 12 schools, will talk about what faith means for them as teachers and scholars, and how they are able to bring it to bear in the environment of a Catholic university. 

On January 26, the day after my inauguration, award-winning poet and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia will speak on the topic “The Catholic Writer Today.”  In February Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Russian Orthodox archbishop and composer of sacred and symphonic music, will speak on the intersection of faith and music. On April 27, Father Ian Ker, senior research fellow at Oxford University and the leading authority on the life and thought of Blessed John Henry Newman, will speak on “Newman's Idea of a University — Some Misunderstandings.”

A number of other events are in the planning stages and will be announced after they have been finalized. For now, I urge you to take a few moments to check out our new Inauguration web pages. I also hope that you will mark in your calendars the events that will be hosted under the banner of “Intellect and Virtue.”

May your Christmas be filled with joy and hope for the year to come.

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Last Revised 01-Dec-10 08:41 AM.