Honorary Degree Conferred During Mass

April 26, 2013

New graduates of Saint Leo University, families, faculty, staff, and friends gathered Friday afternoon at University Campus to celebrate the traditional Baccalaureate Mass held at the start of commencement weekend.

Most Reverend Felipe J. Estévez, bishop of the diocese of St. Augustine, was the presider and delivered the homily, which drew upon the story of the Samaritan. The bishop urged graduates to perform acts of kindness, service, and creativity, and to pursue honest success and happiness, no matter what negative commentary they might hear along the way. Persisting at doing one’s best is between the person and God, the bishop said, and not about others, anyway.

During the Mass, University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., awarded the bishop an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of the bishop’s service to the church and his support of education.

The bishop was installed two years ago as the spiritual leader of the diocese of Saint Augustine, with a population of 182,000 Catholics. The diocese comprises 17 Florida counties, from Nassau County in the north to Flagler County in the south, and westward to the Gulf of Mexico. This diocese also includes many counties where Saint Leo students are enrolled in Education Centers. Bishop Estévez, who came to America from Cuba as a teenager, has served the church in ministries for youth, college students, prisons, families, and more. He holds a doctorate in theology and is fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Italian.