Merrimack College President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D., and his wife Cheryl Lucas on Thursday, Nov. 30, were made Affiliates of the Order of Saint Augustine for their dedication to championing the Augustinian mission.
Affiliation is the highest honor the Order of Saint Augustine can bestow on a layperson. Those who are made Affiliates become official members of the Augustinian family and share in all the spiritual benefits of the Order. The Order of Saint Augustine and Fr. Vincent McQuade, O.S.A., founded Merrimack College in 1947.
“This affiliation is an incredible honor and blessing for Cheryl and I,” said President Hopey. “We are very touched and humbled by it. It truly means everything to us. Merrimack College isn’t just a place, it is truly a way of being and the Augustinians and their values are our North Star. They make all the difference at this College.”
The Affiliation was officially presented to Hopey and Lucas during a special Mass celebrated by Fr. Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., Merrimack’s vice president for mission and ministry, on Thursday, Nov. 30, at St. Augustine’s Parish in Andover, MA. After which, a celebratory dinner was held at Merrimack’s Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher.
“We don’t take Affiliation lightly,” said Fr. Robert Hagan, O.S.A., prior provincial of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. “It honors and recognizes those who in a very significant and extraordinary way collaborate with us on our mission that amplifies our charism. And Chris and Cheryl have done just that.”
Hopey and Lucas were nominated by Dlugos, Fr. Bryan Kerns, O.S.A., vice president and chief of staff, and Fr. Dan Madden, O.S.A. director of Merrimack’s Austin Scholars Formation, who comprise the Community of St. Ambrose Friary. The Affiliation is voted on by the Provincial Council of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova and then forwarded on to the worldwide Augustinian leadership in Rome, where it is approved by the Prior General and his Council.
In their nomination letter, Fr. Ray, Fr. Bryan and Fr. Dan extolled Hopey’s reinvigoration of the Catholic and Augustinian mission in Merrimack’s identity as a higher education institution. They also celebrated Lucas’ dedication to the College’s efforts to support its students, faculty, staff and neighboring communities.
“We’ve been extremely blessed to have Chris and Cheryl be part of our community,” said Merrimack College Board of Trustees Chairman Kevin Lucey. “Under Chris’ leadership, the College has thrived and continues to make its mark. But I would be remiss not to thank Cheryl for all her hard work, dedication and sacrifice on behalf of the College. She is Chris’ rock.”
Previous members of the Merrimack College community who received an Affiliation of the Order of Saint Augustine include Joseph Kelley, professor of religious and theological studies, as well as alumni Mary Wesson ’57, Thomas Caffrey ’60, Esq. and Margaret Gabriel.