When Archbishop Alexander Brunett arrived at the 27th Annual Gala on Oct. 29, he knew he was receiving the St. Ignatius Medal, Seattle University’s most prestigious and highest honor, but as the archbishop and the audience would later find out, he would be recognized in an additional way. More on that in a moment; first, the medal.
“This is a proud moment for Seattle University,” said Betty Woods, chair of the SU Board of Trustees, who joined President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., in presenting the medal. “…(W)e salute Archbishop Brunett’s leadership in supporting student scholarships and Catholic education from elementary school all the way through Seattle U.”
A grateful Archbishop Brunett called it a “very emotional” moment, alluded to the 12 years of Jesuit education he received and said the medal didn’t belong to him alone, crediting others who have joined him in delivering a “solid education based on our Catholic faith tradition.”
After completing his remarks, Brunett planned to return to his seat, but Father Sundborg had something else in mind. After asking the archbishop to remain on stage, the president announced the creation of the Archbishop Alex J. Brunett Faculty Fellowship, which will be part of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, scheduled to launch next fall.
“There is no better person for whom to name our very first fellowship in (the institute) who is more fitting than Archbishop Alex Brunett,” said Sundborg. “Please join me in recognizing and thanking Archbishop Brunett for his years of service to our archdiocese and especially his leadership and support of Catholic education.”
Brunett is being retired as archbishop after serving 13 years as head of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Sundborg, who began as president in 1997, remarked that in his time leading the university he has only worked with one archbishop.
The archbishop, who blessed the Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons and the James C. Pigott Pavilion for Leadership in September, mentioned how he’s been spending a lot of time on SU’s campus these days. “I was kidding Father Steve that I need to get a job (at SU) because I was here four times in a week,” he said.
Attended by about 900 alumni and friends of the university, the Gala raised nearly $630,000 in scholarship support for SU students, exceeding last year’s total.
Past recipients of the St. Ignatius Medal include Ann Wyckoff and Rhoady Lee, Jr. and Jeanne Marie Lee.