March 7, 2018 — On March 20, Fr. William P. Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College, will receive Catholic Extension's 2018 Spirit of Francis Award for his work in shaping students into future leaders. He will be honored at a dinner in Boston, and honorary co-chair His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, will be in attendance.
The Spirit of Francis Award recognizes an individual or group for their commitment "to reach out to the margins of society" in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis and the founder of Catholic Extension, Fr. Francis Clement Kelley. For 110 years, Catholic Extension has been building churches and the church in America's poorest places and transforming lives through the power of faith.
Fr. Leahy is a member of the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus who became the 25th president of Boston College in July 1996. He came to Boston College from Marquette University, where he had served as a faculty member for six years prior to serving as executive vice president. Fr. Leahy holds a doctorate in history from Stanford University, a Master of Arts in U.S. History from Saint Louis University, and master's degrees in divinity and sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. He is the author of "Adapting to America: Catholics, Jesuits and Higher Education in the Twentieth Century."
Under Fr. Leahy's leadership, Boston College joined forces with Catholic Extension to provide educational opportunities for participants in a number of Catholic Extension programs. Since 2012, religious sisters, young adults, and lay leaders from under-resourced mission dioceses have been able to study at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry as well as at the Woods College of Advancing Studies.
The partnership has enabled Catholic Extension to offer scholarships to young adult leaders who serve in parish, diocesan, and campus ministries throughout the United States to earn master's degrees in theology and ministry. Additionally, Hispanic lay leaders who study each summer at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry are able to pursue graduate certificates in Hispanic ministry. For more information, visit www.catholicextension.org.