College of Fellows
Kevin Starr's Presentation at 2012 Convocation
Citation at the Induction into the College of Fellows - Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP
Kevin Starr, husband, father and grandfather, journalist, author, historian, distinguished public servant, professor, friend of the Order and faithful son of the Church, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology salutes you.
You have written truly of the Order of Preachers, that "the Dominican experiment began, and continues, on the premise that men and women are basically of good will and are basically seeking the truth. It is not accidental that Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican. He could have, after all, remained a Benedictine, but something in the spirit of the Order, an intrinsic confidence, pre-Thomistic, of faith seeking intellect, the direct legacy of St. Dominic, spoke to Thomas, brought him to take the habit and nurtured in him throughout his Dominican life an almost naive assurance that through their God-given intellects men and women could come to the truth." You have characterized our own age as an age much like St. Dominic"s, "an age of "isms," and each "ism," even the friendly "ism," exercises its seductive, siren call. What to follow? What believe? The landscapes of both sacred and secular inquiry are crowded with a confusion of road signs, which must be mastered for purposes of examination, apprehended, filtered, balanced, and harmonized through that instinctive orthodoxy that is so much a part of the Dominican spirit."
What you have written of the Order can well be said of your own life and work, which has wonderfully combined an "assurance that men and women can come to the truth" with "an instinctive orthodoxy" that "examines, apprehends, filters and balances" and wonderfully interprets for us our common history and our hopes and aspirations as citizens of this state and nation.
Throughout your distinguished career you have never hesitated publicly to profess your Catholic faith. As fourteenth Librarian of the State of California, as University Professor at the University of Southern California, as author of a dozen books, and countless articles, as contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times, columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, Vatican correspondent, in your work in communications and in your civic responsibilities you have manifested the truth that the "mixed life," a life that seeks to contemplate the truth, and yet to teach and encourage others, is the highest calling of the Christian.
The excellence of your work has been widely acknowledged. Your writing has earned you, among many other awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, membership in the Society of American Historians, and the Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California. You have received five honorary doctorates, and have been particularly celebrated by your own alma mater, Harvard University.
The Vatican Council II assigned to the laity principal responsibility for the secular mission of the Church, but also exhorted the lay faithful to strive to build up the community of the Church. This, too, is a task that you have generously undertaken, having served as Regent for the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, Regent for Saint Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, and presently serving on the Catholic Commission on Intellectual Life, as Trustee for the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, and as a Knight of Malta.
You have encouraged and promoted the work of the laity in the Church; we await with particular enthusiasm the publication of your book Lift Up Your Hearts: The American Catholic Experience.
We are truly honored and grateful that you have consented to collaborate with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology as a Fellow of the School.
Therefore, as an expression of our esteem and gratitude, and in virtue of the authority invested in me by the Board of Trustees of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, I am privileged to bestow upon you, Kevin Starr, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, and to name you as a Fellow of the School.