N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Name: Most Reverend Michael Cornelius O'Neill, BA
Convocation date: May 24, 1974
Discipline / contribution: military chapaincy service ; community service; theology
Citation / biographical information:
EMINENT CHANCELLOR:Degree received: Doctor of Laws
On behalf of the Council and Senate I present to you Most Reverend Michael Cornelius O’Neill, former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Regina.
Archbishop O’Neill is a man with a distinguished career of public service. His life has been one of selfless devotion to his country, to his fellowmen, and to his Church.
Although born in Kemptville, Ontario, he was raised at Vankleek Hill, where he attended public and high schools. As soon as he attained his 18th birthday, he joined the Army for active service during the First World War. He served in the ranks as a gunner with the 27th Battery, C.F.A., and while in action in France was awarded the Military Medal. Upon his discharge in 1918 - then only 20 years of age — he decided to enter the Priesthood. He resumed his education and attended St. Michael’s College, where he obtained his degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1924. From there he continued his studies at St. Augustine’s Seminary and was ordained to the Priesthood in 1927. After that he became truly a Westerner.
In 1928 His Grace accepted a professorship at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton and from 1930 to 1939 was Rector of that institution. On the outbreak of the Second World War he again volunteered for service in the Army. He proceeded Overseas as a Chaplain with an Edmonton Regiment. While Overseas he became Senior Chaplain of the 1st Division and then principal Roman Catholic Chaplain at Canadian Military Headquarters. His outstanding work in the chaplaincy service was recognized when His Majesty George VI, in 1945, bestowed upon him the Order of the British Empire.
Upon his discharge in 1946, Archbishop O’Neill returned to Alberta where he again took up his pastoral work. In December of 1947 the Holy Father appointed him Archbishop of Regina. Early in 1948 he was installed as the 4th Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Regina. For 25 years he was the spiritual leader of his people in that Archdiocese.
It was during that 25 years that, not only the people of his own flock, but also the people of Saskatchewan, came to know him. He came as a stranger but did not long remain so. His love of people - his warm and friendly personality - his attributes of tolerance and understanding — his interest in community and provincial problems and his support of progressive education gained for him friends in every walk of life. By his people he was recognized as a great leader - one who guided rather than governed — one who persuaded rather than ordered — one who reasoned and never dictated. By those not of his Faith he was recognized as the embodiment of tolerance and understanding, and as a man whose interest was for the welfare of all people — as a man with a never-failing loyalty to his community, his Province and his country.
The contribution which Archbishop O’Neill has made to his Church, his community, his Province and his country, in his quiet and effective way, is such that he can rightly be characterized as a great churchman, an outstanding citizen, and a true Canadian.
It is as that great churchman, outstanding citizen, and true Canadian, Eminent Chancellor, that I present to you His Grace and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented at: University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus
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