Guwahati: The Chancellor of Urban University Rome, Cardinal Fernando Filoni conferred honorary doctoral degree on Archbishop emeritus Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, 14 November.
It is a recognition of Archbishop Menamparampil’s outstanding contribution for promotion of cross cultural thought, inter-cultural relationships, providing health and education for poor, especially marginalized youth, and peace promotion in areas of ethnic conflict, especially in northeast India.
The prelate’s keen interest in indigenous cultures, Asian civilizations, promotion of eroding cultural and ethical values, involvement in institutions of higher learning especially Assam Don Bosco University has been noteworthy. He was also instrumental in initiating some 50 schools, and 5 hospitals in Assam.
Over a period of two decades, the Salesian prelate and his Joint Ecumenical Peace Team successfully led seven major peace and conflict resolution initiatives — Bodo-Adivasi in 1996, Kuki-Paite in 1998, Dimasa-Hmar in 2003, Karbi-Kuki in 2003, Dimasa-Karbi in 2004, Bodo-Muslim at Udalguri in 2010 and Rabha-Garo in 2011.
The archbishop who worked more than 60 years in northeast was honoured along with Professor Gerald Anderson of Hamden Connecticut, USA, who had earlier been heading a Theological Institute in the Philippines and was responsible for many publications.
The programme began with Holy Eucharist celebrated in the University Chapel presided over by Cardinal Filoni marking the inauguration of the academic year (2013-2014).
It was followed by the commencement of the academic year ceremonies held in the Urban University Auditorium (Aula Magna) at 10.45 am with greetings by Vice-Chancellor Prof. Alberto Trevisiol IMC and presentation of the doctoral candidates by Prof. Gianni Colzani.
After conferring of the Doctor ‘honoris causa’, the candidates gave their acceptance speeches.
Dr Henderson spoke on “A new missionary age,”and Archbishop Menamparampil spoke on St Paul’s statement “I have an obligation to All Peoples” (Rom 1:14).
In his speech the archbishop urged that “we develop in ourselves the sense of mission that St. Paul had when he said ‘I have an obligation to all peoples.’ The Apostle was sure that he would exclude no one from the universal concern he had for all communities, neither the most advanced nor the least, neither those already good, nor those who fail in their efforts. St Paul kept taking the Good News to new communities, approaching each one with great respect and was sensitive to each one’s cultural heritage and ethnic pride.”
The origins of URBANIANA University date back to Pope Urban VIII who decided to establish the Urban College on 1 August, 1627. Since 1966, the Urbaniana has accepted the affiliation of Seminaries and Institutes of Philosophy, Theology, Missiology, and Canon Law from all over the world.