Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan was conferred an honorary doctorate on Thursday, January 26, by the Saint Louis University (SLS) in Baguio City.
He received the degree Doctor in Philosophy, honoris causa, during the university’s graduation ceremony at its Prince Bernhard Gym.
The archbishop, 62, was honored for being “an exemplary religious and civic leader, public servant, philosopher, social reformer and agent of moral and social transformation.”
An honorary degree is the highest honor conferred by the university.
According to SLU, the honorary doctorate degree is awarded “in recognition of an individual’s meritorious contribution for the advancement of a particular discipline through noble accomplishment and contributions in instruction, research, practice, and personal engagements which led to the development of the community, society, and the nation as a whole.”
Archbishop Villegas, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, described the honorary doctorate as “unexpected, undeserving, and pure grace.”
The ceremony was preceded with a Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by the archbishop, who also currently chairs the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Seminaries.
In his homily, he told the graduates that they were not trained by the Catholic university to focus only on earthly things.
“There is something greater than your diploma, something greater than your achievements. And what is that? God,” Archbishop Villegas said.
“Everything is grace, everything is a gift, and everything is temporary. So set your hearts on the greater gifts. Do not get misled, deceived by flickering trivialities because life is greater than all of these,” he said.
And because everything is a gift and temporary, the church leader stressed that “everything must be shared, everything must be given”.
“If God has given you this quality education from this quality university, it is not for you. It is always meant for others because it is only in living for others that we can truly say we are living for God,” he said.
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