Sen. Kinsella's contributions to Catholic education recognized

By 
  • September 22, 2010
Senator Noël A. KinsellaOn Oct. 1, St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont., will be honouring Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, for his leadership in Catholic education at its 10th annual Feast of St. Jerome.

“I’m quite honoured and thrilled,” said Kinsella. “I don’t know why they chose me. There’s so many more deserving people.”

But Nadine Collins, university advancement officer at St. Jerome’s, which is federated with the University of Waterloo, found plenty of reasons for Kinsella to be  honoured.


“He is known to be quite an advocate for Catholic education and for us, part of our mission statement talks about having everything to do with the Gospel values of love, truth and peace,” Collins said. “We have a Centre for Responsible Citizenship that he helped us to open in 2008 so his dedication as a human rights advocate fits in really well with our mission and our interest in Catholic education.”

Kinsella spent 42 years as a professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., where he now sits on the board of governors. During his tenure, Kinsella founded the psychology department, helped to establish the social work degree program, served as vice-president academic and chair of both the philosophy department and Catholic studies program. He has been a member of the Canadian Senate since 1990, and Speaker for the past four years.

Born in Saint John, N.B., his own schooling shows a deep respect for Catholic education. Kinsella has degrees from University College Dublin, St. Thomas Aquinas University and the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

“I was the first layman to do a doctorate in theology at the Vatican at the Pontifical Lateran University,” Kinsella said.

And his work as a human rights advocate goes back years.

“I was asked by the premier of New Brunswick to look at the issue of race relations or racial discrimination, more specifically, in this province in the early 1960s,” he said.

“I proposed that we would enact a human rights act. New Brunswick became the second province after Ontario to have a human rights act.”

For 22 years, he served as the chairperson of  the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.

But it was while completing his masters in theology that the groundwork for his human rights advocacy was laid when a professor suggested he write an analysis on the encyclical of the day: Pope John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris in 1963.

“In Pacem in Terris, it was the first time that a pope drew inspiration from the work of the United Nations. He understood how important the work of the UN was for the world community and singled out the proclamation by the UN of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That was my first contact with human rights and I began to study it,” said Kinsella.

“Working on that had a great influence on me.”

The Feast includes a dinner along with the award presentation and speech given by Kinsella. Proceeds from the event support first-year entrance scholarships at St. Jerome’s University.

For more information, see www.sju.ca.

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