Dr. Michael Naughton received “The Monika K. Hellwig Award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Intellectual Life” from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities on Jan. 31, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Father Dennis Dease introduced Naughton and presented him the award. In accepting the award, Naughton stated the following:
“Our work of the university, like all of Catholic higher education, is going through a time best captured in a line by Pope Francis, who states: ‘We are living not so much in an age of change, but a change of age.’ This ‘change of age’ calls us to go to the root of things, especially in regard to the intellectual and academic life. Catholic higher education is facing serious cultural changes, which will entail from its leaders, both administrators and faculty, not only technical and administrative competence but an ability to get to the root of the matter, an imaginative and sacramental vision that can see the invisible image of the visible reality.
At a Catholic university, our commitments to social justice, ethics, diversity and hospitality are an outcome of a deeper purpose that is in need of constant nurturing and articulation. The deeper purpose and root system of the Catholic university is the habit of mind:
- formed by a unity of knowledge that enables us to see things in relation to each other,
- animated by the complementarity of faith and reason that explores the deepest questions of ultimacy and meaning and
- nurtured in an ecclesial communion that brings us to a living link with Christ.
Informed by these sources, the student develops a habit of mind that moves his or her thinking from information and knowledge to the intellectual and moral virtue of wisdom.
The work this award recognizes has been a social achievement. I specifically want to mention the University of St. Thomas and its leaders, current president Dr. Julie Sullivan, and past president Father Dease, with whom I worked for 22 years, and the late Monsignor Terrence Murphy, who hired me 24 years ago. Their support and encouragement have been critical to our work and, in particular, in the development of the Center for Catholic Studies. Within this Center, I have been surrounded by extraordinarily brilliant colleagues whose wisdom, counsel and spirit of self-sacrifice have witnessed to me the best of Catholic intellectual life. In particular, the collaborations and counsel of Don Briel, Bob Kennedy, Ken Goodpaster and Deborah Ruddy have been indispensable to our achievements.
I also have been guided and inspired by the personal counsel of my wife, Teresa, who has been my intellectual partner and spiritual companion for over 27 years. Above all, this work has been a collaboration with Christ the Teacher, whose Truth and Way we seek, so imperfectly, in all we do.”
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