University President John J. DeGioia honored Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, with an honorary degree for his “compassionate service to others and [the] cause of peace” at a Wednesday evening ceremony in Gaston Hall.
DeGioia was one of several speakers who praised the Cardinal for his concern for the poor, at home and abroad, and his desire to unite people of all faiths in peace.
The Rev. Brian McDermott, S.J., rector of the Georgetown Jesuit community, read the official degree citation and said McCarrick was being honored “for his extraordinary role in serving God’s people.”
Before an audience of senators, diplomats and other dignitaries, cCarrick gave an acceptance address in which he praised Georgetown for rearing future leaders of the Catholic Church and discussed the importance of Catholic universities.
“The preparation of Catholic leaders is a noble role,” he said.
McCarrick also said that non-Catholics have an extraordinary opportunity in attending a Catholic university like Georgetown because they are able to see what Catholicism offers.
He said there are three qualities of a good Jesuit: caring, wonder and adventure. The mark of every great university is caring, he continued. The mark of every great Catholic university is wonder and the mark of every great Jesuit university is adventure.
McCarrick told three stories that he felt best exemplified each of those three traits.
The first came from his experience on a relief mission to Sudan. The sight of people he said were so destitute that they needed to sell their children for water taught him that “all life has to have caring in it” and that “a university must train people to care.”
The Cardinal recounted the tale of a young man in East Timor, who, with great courage saved the life of a Catholic bishop from a marauding band of militiamen. McCarrick said this story helped him discover the importance of wonder and its place in a Catholic university.
“A Catholic university has to somehow advance that sense of wonder, that sense of mystery that someone can rise above himself,” he said.
Finally, the Cardinal told of a Jesuit in Slovakia who had secretly ordained priests against the wishes of the communist government and was jailed. McCarrick said felt this story highlighted the importance of adventure in life.
“Always listen to that other voice that says you can do it, find a way,” he said.
McCarrick concluded his speech by reiterating the importance of caring, wonder and adventure saying that all people share a common dignity, individuals must never be afraid of mystery, and wonder is part of existence. He said he was pleased that Georgetown has excelled because it has all three of these traits.
“I find all these things here at Georgetown, I pray they will always be here,” he said.
McCarrick, who said he frequently visits Georgetown’s campus, also said that the honorary degree made him feel even closer to the school.
“I no longer see myself as a welcomed visitor but as a member of the family,” he said.