Written by Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, on May 2007 at the Induction in the College of Fellows
Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, husband and father, political activist, spokesman for the Church, mentor and teacher, faithful son of the Church, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology salutes you.
In their document, Apostolicam Actuositatem, the Fathers of the Vatican Council II articulated a task that, they said, the Church cannot accomplish without the full commitment of lay Catholics: “The laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation. Led by the light of the gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, they must act directly and in a definite way in the temporal sphere. …The temporal order must be renewed in such a way that, without detriment to its own proper laws, it may be brought into conformity with the higher principles of the Christian life and adapted to the shifting circumstances of time, place, and peoples”.
As an advisor to the bishops of the Church, and as a formator, teacher and mentor to lay Catholics, you have worked tirelessly to fulfill this mandate of the Council. You have emphasized the necessity for the Church to intervene in the issues confronting society so that the light of the Gospel may inform the deliberations of our political leaders, and you have rendered the voice of the Church intelligible to them.
Throughout your career, you have had a particular care for the vocations of lay Catholics, and therefore, for the young. Early in your career, having taught in the Catholic school system, you co-founded and directed the Channel Program of the Archdiocese of Seattle, in which you inspired and prepared young Catholic men and women, recently graduated from College, for ministry in the Church. Your solicitude for youth continues to this day, in your service to the California Association of Private School Associations, whom you advise as a board member. It is a wonderful tribute to you that, among many others, you have been an example and inspiration to your son, Bryan, who was ordained last year as a Priest for the Archdiocese of Seattle.
As Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of the State of Washington, and now as Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference, you have been a spokesman for the Church on the most significant moral issues of our day: euthanasia, parental rights, immigration, education, health care, prison reform, the death penalty, solicitude for the poor. With wonderful generosity you have undertaken to educate the Catholic laity on the social teaching of the Church as it pertains to these issues, through lectures, workshops, symposia and classes, often offered on your own time. We remember with particular gratitude the inter session course that you offered several years ago here at the Dominican School.
You have worked, particularly, to encourage an institutional response to the social problems of our day. You presently serve as Chair of the State Advisory Committee on Institutional Religion, Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the Catholic Health Association, as Member of the Board for the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, the Leadership Roundtable Institute and Catholic Charities of California. Your leadership is also exercised on a national level, through the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors, where you serve as Vice President.
You have been honored by Pope John Paul II as Knight Commander of St. Gregory for your national and international service to the Church.
If we are to form our students for the sake of what the Vatican Council II calls “the apostolate in the social milieu” which is “the effort to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws, and structures of the community,” then we can do no better than to seek your counsel and collaboration. We are truly honored and grateful that you have consented to collaborate with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology as a Fellow of the School.
Therefore, as an expression of our esteem and gratitude, and in virtue of the authority invested in me by the Board of Trustees of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, I am privileged to bestow upon you, Ned Dolejsi, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, and to name you as a Fellow of the School.