Father Jenkins to receive Spirit of Francis Award from Catholic Extension

by Michael O. Garvey

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., has been named the 2015 recipient of the Spirit of Francis National Award by Catholic Extension for his role in supporting and encouraging future leaders of the Catholic Church throughout his career at Notre Dame.

Father Jenkins will receive the honor at a dinner and ceremony at the Metropolitan Club in New York on Oct. 22.

Catholic Extension, a papal society established in 1905, is a national fundraising organization that serves some of America’s most marginalized communities in 94 mission dioceses throughout America. Notre Dame has been a partner of Catholic Extension in various initiatives that have enabled 120 students from these dioceses to take advantage of Notre Dame’s programs.

“Since its founding over a century ago, Catholic Extension has served the most isolated and poorest places in America, and now most ably under the leadership of its president, Father Jack Wall,” Father Jenkins said. “Notre Dame is proud of its association with Catholic Extension and honored to be recognized by so revered an organization.”

The Spirit of Francis National Award was established last year to recognize an individual or group “laudable for a 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, Father Francis Clement Kelley.” The recipient of the inaugural award in 2014 was author and philanthropist Mary Higgins Clark.

Elected in 2005 as the University of Notre Dame’s 17th president, Father Jenkins has been committed to combining teaching and research excellence with a cultivation of the deeper purposes of Catholic higher education. A popular teacher, he has taught courses on ancient and medieval philosophy, faith and reason, and Thomas Aquinas. While pursuing academic distinction, he has brought renewed emphasis to Notre Dame’s distinctive mission, rooted in the tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University’s founding community, to educate the whole person — mind, body and spirit — to do good in the world.

Other honors Father Jenkins has received include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the American Irish Historical Society’s Gold Medal. He also holds honorary degrees from Benedictine College, the University of San Francisco and Aquinas College.