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|Monsignor Alfred Horrigan|
Conferral speech for the Distinguished Alumnus Award given at the 1990 Saint Meinrad Alumni Reunion
Presented August 7, 1990
When our Alumni Association decided to present a Distinguished Alumnus Award, it set for itself a difficult task to select only one from among our 6,000 members.
But in reviewing the nominees in light of the established criteria for the award, both the Nominating Committee and Board of Directors were unanimous in their first selection for the award.
Those criteria do not specify whether the recipient be lay or clerical, living or dead. But they are most definite in calling for an individual who has provided recognized service to Saint Meinrad and the Church and, most importantly, has exemplified the Gospel’s vales in his life and work.
The first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award certainly meets those criteria.
In service to his Alma Mater, he has been a member of both the Alumni Board of Directors and the Seminary’s Board of Overseers. He has been class chairman for the Annual Alumni Giving Program and has himself generously contributed to the Seminary.
In many areas of activity, he has distinguished himself. He achieved advanced educational degrees, was pastor of his boyhood parish, was the founding president of a college, the chairman of his city’s human relations commission, the editor of an archdiocesan newspaper, and the founding director of his Archdiocese’s Peace and Justice Commission. He has received awards and honors from countless civic, philanthropic, religious and educational institutions.
All these are laudatory. But I don’t believe they really speak to the criteria we established for our Distinguished Alumnus Award. Those criteria speak more to the quality of service than to a chronological or numerical listing of events or achievements.
Possibly the best way to describe the quality of his service to the People of God – to the Gospel values – to the qualities that Saint Meinrad endeavors to inculcate into its students – is to illustrate it through some chapters in his life.
He obviously has been asked to take on many varied assignments. In all of these he has followed the wishes of his bishop in whatever direction that led – parish priest, educator, editor, college president, diocesan administrator.
He has exemplified the gospel values of courage and faith in Divine Providence on more than one occasion. But two are particularly noteworthy.
Before the end of his first year as president of Bellarmine College, almost half of his student body disappeared into the military service with the outbreak of the Korean War. His faith and perseverance has resulted in what is now the largest private college in the state of Kentucky.
As Chairman of the City-County Human Relations Commission, he was the community leader who promoted and “took the heat” for setting up equal opportunities in housing in the Louisville area in the 1960s. His work in this area caused the loss of support of some of the college’s benefactors who felt their president was leading in the wrong direction.
After many years of service to the Church, he was assigned to his boyhood parish as pastor, a position he held for eight years until formal retirement in 1988. However, you can still find the Senior Associate Pastor celebrating the Word and Eucharist there to this day.
His homilies over the years have been models for other priests. It is especially significant that he has been asked to preach at countless funeral masses for fellow priests because of his insight into both the ministerial and human elements of their priestly calling.
With honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities, it seems it is appropriate…and time for his alma mater – his first love – where each year he spends a quiet week in retreat – to honor him with its first Distinguished Alumnus Award.
I think it is particularly fitting that this honor falls in the year when he and his classmates are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ordination to the priesthood.
I give you the first recipient of the Saint Meinrad Distinguished Alumnus Award – Monsignor Alfred Horrigan of the Class of 1940 from the Archdiocese of Louisville.Photograph of Msgr. Horrigan used with permission from Bellarmine University.