Honorary degree citation - J. Gerard McDonough*
By: Robert Nagy, June 1987
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Father Gerard McDonough, Jesuit priest, first Dean of Students, indefatigable organizer serving on numerous committees in the building of the new Loyola. Always concerned for the needs and projects of the community he served. He worked tirelessly to bring about projects like Hingston Hall, the Athletics Complex, the Bryan Building, and especially the Campus Center.
His passionate concern for students led to his development of student services at. Loyola. This same tireless energy and concern for the people he has come to serve has been the hallmark of his work in India where he has been since leaving Loyola in 1970. A schematic overview of his life's journey is exhausting and yet his pace hasn't seemed to have let up since undergoing heart by pass surgery twice recently.
What drives such a man? Is it the peculiar combination of his education and family. The rugged individualism of a northern mining family, together with the tenacious Irishness, that somewhat unholy mix of beginning engineering studies, a stint in the RAF, then the rigours of Jesuit formation and study, degrees in theology and economics. They marked him as a man of faith with a very pragmatic sense of the world and the earth and the people who work it.
It's been the hallmark of his work and ministry. He was a problem-solver. If there was a felt need there had to be a way of dealing with it. The pragmatic Christianity or, to use a theological word, an incarnational faith in God who calls us to achieve freedom and bring it about responsibly for our brothers and sisters. He felt this most intensely for the poor of India. The same caring that earlier led him to work so hard for students at this university imbues his work there.
In India his fund-raising has enabled him to establish projects that reach out to the very immediate needs of people, health care, housing, self help projects to create jobs and self-sufficiency and, of course, the passion that led him to choose a Jesuit vocation - education projects for the poor. His projects have supported poor college students, the training of paramedical teams, established 10 mobile medical units, adult literacy programs, housing projects in Bombay, Montessori schools in the slums of Bombay as well as plans for a model school for the untouchables.
We honour him today because he has blessed us by his passing in our midst, a passing that has left us monuments of his caring. But even more powerful are the stories of the people he has touched and encouraged. They are truly monumental and it's a joyful honour for us to remember them.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Father Gerard McDonough, so that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.