Back to Top
Top Nav content Site Footer
University Home

Archive Research Center

University Honors

Archbishop of New York

Honorary Doctor of Laws



When in 1939 Pope Pius XII entrusted Archbishop Spellman with the spiritual welfare of 5000 Catholic chaplains and millions of Catholic men in the armed forces of our country, he gave him a commission that encircled the globe. Little did he imagine that the Archbishop would fulfill his commission by circling the globe in person. Often had Archbishop Spellman meditated on the mandate of Christ to His Apostles, go forth into the whole world. He was determined to emulate the completeness and the devotedness with which the Apostle pursued this mandate. His first itinerary took him to every camp in the United States and Alaska, covering 19,000 miles. That was in 1942. The following year he visited our men in the prison camps of Italy and our fighting forces from the British Isles to the heart of Iran, and from Morocco to Mozambique - a total of 46,000 miles. His third tour of duty, in 1944, took him to the allied fronts in Italy and France; and the following August found him with the victorious American troops in Tokyo. The war over and victory achieved, many another man would have thought that his commission had been fulfilled. And so it seemed with Archbishop Spellman. For at the end of 1945 the Holy Father bestowed on him the red hat of a Cardinal - the accolade of magnificent achievement in the cause of religion and of freedom and of peace. But the war wasn't really over. Our fighting men came home, but others went out to take their places at the ends of the earth. And Cardinal Spellman followed them. Year after year, at Christmas time, he went out to them, brought them gifts, visited and ate with them, said Mass for them, and almost made them forget they were so far, so very far from home. But Cardinal Spellman did not forget his responsibilities as head of a large and influential archdiocese. What was happening during these years in the Archdiocese of New York? The number of the clergy was doubled, parish debts refunded, subsidies provided for the advance education of teaching Sisters, new hospitals erected as well as resident hotels for the elderly, and only this week it was announced that a drive for funds to build new high schools was oversubscribed by fifteen million dollars. What a tribute to the grandeur of the Cardinal's vision, the wisdom of his planning and the devotedness which he inspired in the men and women who counted it a privilege to build what he had planned. Reverend President, I have the honor to present to you, for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, Francis Cardinal Spellman, spiritual father to millions of men in the armed services, builder, administrator, financier, and the beloved Archbishop of New York. The Honorary Degree was presented to Cardinal Spellman during the Creative Minds in the Crisis of Freedom Convocation, Honors Convocation, University of Detroit, April 5, 1961.

University of Detroit

Back to Top