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Aquinas Grants Honorary Degree to the Bishop of Grand Rapids

The Most Rev. Walter A. Hurley, bishop of Grand Rapids, will receive a Doctorate of Theology, Honoris Causa at Aquinas College’s 2013 commencement ceremonies.

Hurley was appointed the pastoral and administrative head of the Grand Rapids Diocese in 2005, and has subsequently led many important diocesan initiatives. The 2008 construction of Cathedral Square, greater use of electronic communication and record-keeping, and the reorganization of diocesan parishes constitute some highlights of Hurley’s distinguished legacy.

Amidst a shortage of Catholic priests in much of North America and Europe, the numbers of diocesan seminarians have increased during Hurley’s tenure as bishop. In conjunction with the diocesan vocation director and others, Hurley said that the diocese strives to create a culture that encourages and values priestly vocations.

Hurley also initiated the “Cathedral Square Project,” combining diocesan offices and ministries into one, centralized location in downtown Grand Rapids. The project sought to strengthen the faith life within the diocese, raise the Catholic community’s profile in the region, and create an accessible environment for diocesan laity and clergy.

In 2009, Hurley initiated “Our Faith, Our Future,” a pastoral planning process designed to streamline and strengthen the future of the diocese in light of shifting demographics in diocesan faith communities. The diocese was subsequently reorganized from 103 to 85 parishes, with the intent to create healthier and more vibrant faith communities. In addition, “Our Faith, Our Future” made way for the establishment of a new church, Blessed John Paul II Parish, in Cedar Springs, Michigan.

Hurley also oversaw the formation of the St. Luke University Parish near Grand Valley State University in 2007. The parish enables the diocese to serve the university’s Catholic community, support student outreach, and celebrate Sunday Masses on campus.

In the spirit of the New Evangelization, Hurley has supported widespread implementation of technology within the diocese, including the utilization of social media, electronic communication, and digital record-keeping. He also played a central role in bringing FAITH Grand Rapids Magazine to the diocese.

Hurley is deeply interested in Aquinas College and its students, acknowledging the College’s unique role as the only Catholic institution of higher learning in West Michigan. “It’s been a very positive relationship,” he said, and is honored to receive an honorary degree from Aquinas.

Hurley will join Ellen M. Satterlee, chief executive officer of The Wege Foundation, in receiving honorary degrees from Aquinas at the College’s 2013 commencement ceremony. Peter M. Perez, president and chief executive officer of Carter Products, Inc., will deliver the commencement address. The ceremony will begin at 2 pm, May 4, in the Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center.