Catholicireland.net Features

Sr. Miriam Duggan is Awarded
Honorary Doctorate 

Image
Sr. Miriam receiving her degree from President of College
 
Photograph by Dan Vaillcourt

On May 27th, Sr. Miriam Duggan our Congregational Leader was awarded the degree of Doctor of Ministry, honoris causa by the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.  This honorary degree was conferred on her in recognition of her work in furthering a behaviour change approach to the prevention of HIV/AIDS.  The tremendous work Sr. Miriam has done is now recognized across the globe.  In December 2006 Harvard University, the Church of Uganda and the John Templeton Foundation also honoured Miriam for her pioneering work in Behaviour-Based HIV Prevention. 

Following her conferral, Sr. Miriam remarked with a twinkle,  "I studied for years to become a Doctor ... I studied more years to return to being a "Miss" (or is it "Mister") and now I am a Doctor again!" 

We congratulate Sr. Miriam on receiving her Honorary Doctorate - a well-deserved recognition of her struggle to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Uganda and beyond.

The following citation upon Sr. Miriam's conferral speaks for itself.

Image  

College of Holy Cross

The Board of Trustees

MAIRE MIRIAM DUGGAN

Devoted Missionary Sister for Africa, Doctor of Medicine, lifelong agent of mercy, charity and total dedication, the College of the Holy Cross welcomes you today with admiration and affection. A courageous journey begun long ago in County Limerick in Ireland, the storied land of your birth and youth, now finds you, these past thirty years in Uganda, Medical Superintendent at the Kampala Hospital. Unknown when you first arrived there, the virulent and devastating epidemic of HIV/AIDS is now the most dominant feature of your personal, religious and professional landscape.

Your experience fighting disease as a gynecologist and eradicating ignorance as an advocate for young people is a narrative of hope for all who hear it. Your life is that precious example of what one individual can accomplish when she calls upon all of her bravery, her faith and resolve. You have been called "The Mother Teresa of Africa," a title you reject in typical modesty. And yet, you are a woman—much like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—of empathy, compassion and hope. To the young people of Uganda, you have provided an alternative to the popular media that cheapens and debases sexuality. You have affirmed for them the life-sustaining value of responsible choices. Your zeal to raise awareness in the face of a seemingly unstoppable malady was born of the deep understanding of your own faith. Your call to action beckoned you to save a nation, to save lives, dreams, the future itself.

You responded to a vision of death and degradation by marshalling all your talents and energies to spread information and change long-held attitudes. You called upon the youth of Uganda to look at the stark reality around them and find the spirit to respond. You challenged the young to locate within themselves the courage, the resolve, the faith to save themselves and the world around them.

Your "Youth Alive" program provides ongoing education regarding sexual behavior, drugs, self-esteem and constructive life choices. The Youth Alive Clubs offer its members a strong sense of belonging and the necessary support that they need to oppose the negative forces and pressures all around them. The Clubs are active with drama festivals, debates, care and good fellowship. As the AIDS prevalence rate in Uganda begins to drop, a skeptical world has taken notice of your vision.

You are both encouraged and inspired - encouraged by success and inspired by your religious vocation. That all may know of our praise for you and that others might follow you, the College of the Holy Cross confers upon you this day, the degree Doctor of Ministry, honoris causa.

                                                                                Michael C. McFarland S.J.
                                                                                President

                                                                                Timothy R. Austin
                                                                                Vice President for Academic Affairs
                                                                                and Dean of College

                                                                                 May 25, 2007