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Patrick J. Reilly, founder and president of The Cardinal Newman Society, will receive an honorary degree from Benedictine College during its annual Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 14. Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, will be the Commencement Speaker for 2022 and will also receive an honorary degree.
Reilly, who has a son graduating from Benedictine, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Reilly has authored and edited many articles, reports, studies, and other publications on Catholic education for the Newman Society and national media. He has appeared on EWTN, FOX News, MSNBC, and numerous radio programs.
When he founded the Newman Society in 1993, he said, “My plan was that we would put out a guide reviewing all 200 Catholic colleges in the United States. Father Benedict Groeschel was one of our advisers. He told me ‘You really ought to focus on the good things. There are some really good things happening in Catholic education. You ought to focus on that.’ So we decided to recommend schools.”
Reilly’s organization publishes the Newman Guide for Choosing a Catholic College.
Prior to the Newman Society, Reilly served as editor and research fellow at Capital Research Center, executive director of Citizens for Educational Freedom, higher education analyst at the U.S. House of Representatives, program analyst at the U.S. Department of Education, media consultant for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and chairman of American Collegians for Life.
Reilly develops and teaches courses in logic, rhetoric, and philosophy for the Aquinas Learning homeschool program, founded by his wife Rosario. He is an advocate of faithful Catholic Scouting, serving as committee chairman and former Scoutmaster of his sons’ Boy Scout troop. He and his wife Rosario have five children.
Reilly said the Cardinal Newman Society was a family operation from the beginning.
“At first, I did everything,” he said. “My wife and I would prepare the room for meetings and conferences. I would put out the bowl and put the Doritos in the bowl. I still see myself as the guy who puts the Doritos in the bowl.”
Reilly was awarded the Lumen Vitae Medal (2018) from the University of Mary, the Miles Militantis Ecclesiae Award (2011) from the Brent Society of the Diocese of Arlington, the Hall of Fame Award (2009) from the Catholic Education Foundation, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (2008) from Holy Apostles College & Seminary, and the Spes Nostra Award (2003) from the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools.
“The Church doesn’t have anywhere near the appreciation for Catholic education that it should have. Catholic education is supposed to help people be who they should be,” he said. “We should be valuing Catholic education more than just about everything we do, except the sacraments.”
“Patrick Reilly, like Benedictine College, believes in truth in advertising,” said President Stephen D. Minnis. “We are excited to honor him for the great work he has done in celebrating faithful Catholic colleges and giving so many families the opportunity to find colleges that will teach their daughters and sons what the Church truly believes about the Catholic faith.”
Reilly was a member of Benedictine College’s committee on academia in its Transforming Culture in America meetings which produced the college’s new strategic plan. His committee helped produce the strategic plan’s language which says: “To form students in scholarship, the college will strengthen its commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition.”
In an article in the National Catholic Register, Reilly praised Benedictine College’s commitment to faith and science. “The College recently opened a new 100,000-square-foot state of the art STEM building, the culmination of an impressive three-year project,” he said. “Students and faculty expect that the new facility will open the door to involvement in even more major research projects.”
“Students can find the best of both worlds” at Benedictine, he said. “They can receive a solid liberal arts education while choosing majors like chemical, civil and mechanical engineering.”