2014 Honorary Degree Citation

John W. Padberg, S.J.
Doctor of Humanities

Renowned scholar, passionate historian, prolific writer, tireless champion of Jesuit intellectual life.

We are honored to welcome you to our 168th Commencement, in the year we also commemorate the bicentennial of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus.

You have led the Institute of Jesuit Sources with vision and brio for more than three decades. As the mission-driven publisher, gifted editor and wise steward of Ignatian and Jesuit history, scholarship and spirituality, you have increased access to the wealth of Jesuit writings in your care. You have broadened the audience and raised the visibility of this treasure of primary documents, English translations and incisive books that explore the spectrum of Jesuit ideas, traditions, teaching and practices.

You have overseen the production of more than 100 books and 80 issues of the “Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits.” You author  lively and enlightened essays that spark conversations among Jesuit scholars around the world. Your book, Colleges in Conflict: The Jesuit Schools in France from Revival to Suppression, 1815-1890, is your magisterial work, providing the historical and cultural context needed to understand more fully the extraordinary history of the Jesuits.

Your Harvard doctorate in the history of ideas prepared you well to teach and to lead as academic vice president at Saint Louis University. You served a decade with distinction as president of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. You have willingly shouldered many demanding roles, often simultaneously, in service to God and God’s people.

You have been called “the embodiment of the Jesuit reverence” for your life’s work that speaks to both the mind and the heart. In 2002, eminent Jesuit and lay scholars published Spirit, Style, Story, a collection of essays to honor your enduring passion for scholarship, spirituality and institutions that promote learning and culture. You have given invited talks at all 28 of our nation’s Jesuit colleges and universities. You have been honored with a litany of well-deserved awards for your life’s work.

Your passion for that work burns as bright as ever seven decades after your entry into the Society of Jesus. Your bold embrace of new social media has made you an especially eloquent presence on YouTube, where, in the best Jesuit tradition, you are connecting with a new generation on its virtual turf. How deeply your discussions on the love of learning, the service of others and the desire for God resonate within the Holy Cross community of students and scholars.

That all may know of our esteem and gratitude for your enduring commitment to groundbreaking Ignatian scholarship, your vital preservation of the rich legacy of our Jesuit heritage and your dedication to providing historical accuracy and cultural context to the foundational truths we seek, the College of the Holy Cross confers upon you this day the degree, Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa.