The evening of Oct. 26 marked a celebratory occasion for the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, which commemorated 20 years of Catholic studies at the university during an invitation-only gala held in the James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, flew to the Twin Cities to celebrate the anniversary. He said Mass before the gala and gave remarks during the dinner afterward.

But St. Thomas wasn’t letting him leave empty-handed. At the event, St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan awarded Dolan, who has been called “equal parts pastor, celebrity and politician,” with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

The citation that Sullivan presented to him stated, “You have respectfully engaged our diverse nation in conversations that have challenged and troubled us. Always, however, you have reminded us of the simplicity of Jesus’ command: ‘Love one another,’” and also honored him for “helping American Catholics remain faithfully engaged in national efforts for better health care, immigration reform and the promotion of peace.” It also lauded him for embracing the University of St. Thomas’ credo: “You have worked skillfully to advance the common good.”

Dolan, who has said he cannot remember a time when he did not want to be a priest, was ordained in 1976. His long list of service to the church includes secretary at the Vatican’s Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.; vice rector, director of spiritual formation and professor of church history at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in Missouri; and rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of St. Louis, Mo., in 2001, and in 2002 he was named archbishop of Milwaukee. In 2009 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Dolan the 10th archbishop of New York. Last year Pope Benedict elevated his rank to cardinal.