photo of Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA

DePaul University confers honorary doctorate on Rev. Larry Snyder

DePaul University Commencement

Editor’s Note: Catholic Charities President, Rev. Larry Snyder, was in Chicago this past weekend to address the 2014 Graduates of DePaul University’s College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and the College of Science & Health, and presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Below are the remarks delivered by Charles Suchar, DePaul University’s Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, who presented Father Larry for the honorary degree.

 “Reverend President, it gives me great pleasure to present Reverend Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, humanitarian and advocate for the poor, as a candidate for the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

“Six months into his tenure leading Catholic Charities USA, Father Larry Snyder faced a crisis of epic proportions.

“Hurricanes Rita and Katrina had devastated the Gulf Coast, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in dire need of disaster relief.

“As the largest private network of social service agencies in the country, Catholic Charities was uniquely poised to lend assistance. And Father Snyder possessed the skills, the drive and the willpower to lead the response.

“He saw to it that Catholic Charities agencies in the region provided immediate and long-term aid to more than one million victims—the largest disaster recovery effort in Catholic Charities’ history.

“Since those early months of his presidency, Father Snyder has led Catholic Charities USA to great heights. Under his watch, more than 1,700 Catholic Charities agencies serve more than 9.25 million people a year, regardless of their religious, social or economic backgrounds.
Because of his efforts, some of the most vulnerable members of society are growing stronger and troubled communities are finding hope.

“Leadership of a major social services organization was not in Father Snyder’s original plans. While he was serving as parish priest at a Catholic church in Minnesota, the archbishop approached him with an opportunity to join Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Though he felt reticent to leave parish work, he agreed to a six-month trial and joined the agency as an assistant director.

“Little did he know then that within eight years, he would become CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, with responsibility for a $39 million operating budget and nearly 500 staff members.

“Under his leadership, the agency achieved great success. He improved its management team, more than doubled annual giving and led a comprehensive strategic planning process.

“At the same time, Father Snyder also assisted the national organization by chairing its National Disaster Response Advisory Committee. With his guidance, the committee oversaw the awarding of more than $30 million in grants to 25 local Catholic Charities agencies following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“After five years of leading a local Catholic Charities agency, he was called to head the national organization. In 2005, he became president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

“Today, he is responsible for the overall direction of the Catholic Charities movement and administration of the national organization. As a respected leader in the social services field, he shares his expertise with national and international groups.

“In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the group that oversees the Church’s charitable activities around the world. From 2006-2011, he served as president of Caritas North America, a confederation of three Catholic relief and social service organizations, including Catholic Charities USA, that work on common initiatives. And in 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to a two-year term on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“Father Snyder also oversees Catholic Charities’ work to reduce poverty in America, providing his expert advice to government leaders, businesses and academics. He published a book, “Think and Act Anew: How Poverty in America Affects Us All and What We Can Do about It,” that challenges government, business and individuals to examine their roles in ending poverty.

“Father Snyder often can be found giving interviews, testifying before Congressional committees and speaking to groups about reducing poverty in America. He tirelessly advocates on behalf of the less fortunate, whose voices are seldom heard.

“His motivation is pure and simple. As he once said, “Our faith has compelled us to reach out to those in need.”

“Through his capable leadership of Catholic Charities USA and his passionate fight against poverty, he has shown the powerful connection between charity and justice. His life is a remarkable example of what one person can accomplish when driven by faith. Today, Father Larry Snyder, it is an honor for DePaul University to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.”

The entire commencement video is available via the following link: