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Archbishop, Archdiocese of Detroit

Honorary Doctor of Laws



"What kind of man must he be who is ambassador to God on behalf of a whole city: city did I say? Indeed the whole world - beseeching Him to have mercy on all sinners be they living or be they dead!...the bishop draws nigh unto God, as if the whole world were his responsibility and he were the father of all men. He prays that wars may everywhere be ended, that strife may cease. He begs that every man may enjoy peace and prosperity, and be speedily delivered from all his woes, public and private...He must be a man of wide experience, abounding in discretion, so that he can be as familiar with worldly affairs as are they who are engaged in them...He must treat with men who have wives and who rear children, who have men subject to them, who abound in riches, who hold public office, who are persons of influence. He must therefore be a versatile man...a man eminently straightforward and self-assured, who knows how to adapt himself to the necessity of circumstances, and to be both kind and firm...All these gifts, however diverse, are directed to the same end, the glory of God and the welfare of the Church." These words were written in the year 387 by a deacon named John Chrysostom, who later became Bishop of Constantinople, a saint and doctor of the Church. He was writing in Antioch, one of the busiest commercial centers of the ancient world. He could have been thinking of Detroit. He could have been describing the endowments of the last Archbishop of Detroit, Edward Cardinal Mooney. And we know that both priests and people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh share our conviction that Chrysostom was also portraying the heart and the mind of our distinguished guest of honor, the new Archbishop of Detroit. John Dearden's boyhood, spent in New England, made him familiar with a significant aspect of the American tradition. His years of study in Rome as seminarian and research scholar, gave him a deep understanding of the Church's traditions and apostolic mission. As Rector of the seminary in Cleveland, he proved that he possessed the Centurion's gift - if you remember the Gospel - of directing the activities of men subject to his authority. His success in this role indicated that he was the kind of man who could serve as "ambassador to God on behalf of a whole city." His years as Bishop of Pittsburgh acquainted him with today's problems of industry, commerce, swelling populations, civic redevelopment, and family life. His skillful handling of these problems manifested that versatility of which St. John Chrysostom spoke. But a responsibility which he met in Pittsburgh, and which awaits him in Detroit, was one of which Chrysostom did not even dream - the responsibility of developing a Catholic educational system at all its levels, elementary, secondary, college, and university. The admirable success which attended his efforts in Pittsburgh augurs well for a proportionately greater success in meeting the more extensive educational demands in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Those who have experienced the loyalty and generosity of the Catholics of our archdiocese have no doubt that the day will come when, under the guidance of our new Archbishop we shall be able to offer every Catholic boy and girl an opportunity to received a complete Catholic education. It is with unbounded confidence in the inspiring leadership of our new Archbishop that I present His Excellency, the Most Reverend John F. Dearden, for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws. Commencement, University of Detroit, June 11, 1959.

University of Detroit

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