Five to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement

    The University of Scranton will bestow five honorary degrees at its undergraduate commencement on Sunday, May 26. Those receiving honorary degrees are, from left: Rev. Matthew Ruhl, S.J.; Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D. ’93, G’93; Rev. Brendan Lally, S.J.,’70; and Ann and David Hawk.
    May 15, 2019

    At its undergraduate commencement ceremony, The University of Scranton will bestow honorary degrees upon: Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D. ’93, G’93, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame; David and Ann Hawk of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates and the Hawk Family Foundation; Rev. Matthew Ruhl, S.J., pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Belize; and Rev. Brendan Lally, S.J. ’70, rector of the Jesuit Community and chaplain at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Dr. Cummings also will serve as the ceremony’s principal speaker.

    As director of the Cushwa Center at Notre Dame, Dr. Cummings oversees numerous projects exploring Catholicism’s role in United States history. She is the author of the books “A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American,” “New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era,” which won three 2009 Catholic Press Association Awards, and “Citizen Saints: Catholics and Canonization in American Culture.”

    An expert on women’s roles within the Catholic Church, Dr. Cummings regularly appears as a commentator on television, and took part in NBC’s live coverage of the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, and Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Last year, she wrote a widely read opinion column in The New York Times about the release of the grand jury report detailing sexual abuse by Catholic clergy members throughout Pennsylvania.

    A full-tuition Presidential Scholar while a student at Scranton, Dr. Cummings received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University, and a second master’s degree and her doctorate from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Cummings received the University’s Frank J. O’Hara Distinguished Alumni Award for religion and spirituality in 2013 and, earlier this year, received the University’s Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Award for Distinguished Contributions to Ignatian Mission and Ministry.

    The Hawks are well-known in the Scranton area for their family’s namesake chocolate company and their many philanthropic endeavors. Married for 46 years, the couple met at the Scranton campus of Penn State University, where Mr. Hawk received his bachelor’s degree in business and Mrs. Hawk earned her degree in human development.

    David Hawk is the longtime owner of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, which was founded by his grandmother and expanded by his father. The company has 275 full-time and 75 seasonal employees at their plant, and 400 full- and part-time retail shop employees. Through its fundraising division, Gertrude Hawk sells its extensive line of chocolates to more than 3,000 groups and organizations. The company also makes the Frango line of chocolates for Macy’s department stores.

    Ann Hawk, who received her master’s degree in counseling from Marywood University, is a private-practice Rosen Method body work practitioner and Rosen Method movement teacher.

    They co-founded and permanently endowed the Hawk Family Foundation, which distributes grants and charitable contributions of more than $1 million a year to worthy causes within a 50-mile radius of Scranton. The foundation’s primary causes include STEM education, the underprivileged (particularly children and the elderly) and prison ministries. They also helped to establish The Nativity Miguel School in Scranton, a tuition-free school for fifth to eighth grade students from low- income families.

    The Hawks have received numerous awards, including Scranton Preparatory School’s Ignatian Award. Residents of Dunmore, the couple has four children and 12 grandchildren.

    A Missouri native and Jesuit priest for more than 25 years, Father Ruhl has served as the pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Belize since 2011. There, he has built a thriving parish despite rampant gang and drug violence. Previously, he taught at St. John’s College in Belize.

    Known as “The Paddling Padre” and “The Peddling Padre,” Father Ruhl has kayaked the length of the Mississippi River and cycled 5,000 miles in 99 days to raise awareness and funding for the underprivileged. Inspired by Catholic Charities USA’s goal of cutting poverty in half by 2020, Father Ruhl raised money for the cause by cycling more than 5,000 miles from Washington to Florida, stopping along the way to volunteer at food banks and meet with the homeless.

    Father Ruhl also has served in urban parishes in the St. Louis area, where he established the Belize Association of St. Louis for Belizeans in need of assistance.

    Father Ruhl served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2010.

    Father Lally has served as St. Joseph University’s chaplain and rector of its Jesuit Community since 2013. He also is a member of its Board of Trustees and director of its annual Holy Land Pilgrimage. Since 2017, he served as director of Scranton’s annual Alumni Retreat. And, since 2010, he has provided spiritual direction for the clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    A former chaplain and teacher at Scranton Prep, Father Lally’s relationship with the University goes back to his undergraduate years. From 1986 to 2003, he served in a number of positions at Scranton, among them campus minister, dormitory resident counselor and acting director of campus ministry. From 1997 to 2003, he served as rector of the Scranton Jesuit Community and as a member of the Board of Trustees of both the University and Scranton Prep.

    Father Lally established the The Bridges to El Salvador Program at the University in 1999, which took faculty, staff and alumni to war-torn El Salvador to better understand the impact the devastation was having on the Salvadorian people. In 2002, Father Lally and other University alumni co-founded the SCOPE Foundation, which sponsors children from the Santa Luisa School in San Salvador. In addition, from 2003 to 2010, he served as spiritual director for the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

    Father Lally entered the Society of Jesus on Sept. 6, 1969, was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1977, and received his final vows to the Society of Jesus on March 11, 1984. He received a bachelor’s degree in English education from the University, and master’s degrees from the Weston School of Theology and Loyola University of Chicago.

    The University of Scranton’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, on Sunday, May 26, at noon.

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