Newman University officials have announced that the Most Rev. Michael O. Jackels, and Alice and Dale Wiggins will be awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degrees during the Spring 2012 Commencement ceremony, beginning at 10 a.m. May 12 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple in Wichita.
The university bestows the honorary degrees at each Fall and Spring Commencement upon notable members of the extended Newman community based on exemplary dedication to one of the university’s four Core Values: Catholic Identity, Culture of Service, Academic Excellence, and Global Perspective. Jackels, who is Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita, will receive a degree for his understanding of and commitment to Catholic Identity. The Wiggins will receive their degree for significantly demonstrating the Newman University Core Value of Culture of Service.
“We are extremely pleased and proud to honor Bishop Jackels and the Wiggins through these degrees,” said Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. “The Bishop is a wise and devoted shepaherd who clearly represents the Core Value of Catholic Identity, and we are honored that he has agreed to accept the degree. The Wiggins are likewise very dedicated to the Church, the community and the principle of service. I think these individuals will truly be an inspiration to our graduates.”
The Most Rev. Michael O. Jackels
Bishop Jackels was appointed the 10th Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita on Jan. 28, 2005 by Pope John Paul II. Since that time, he has gained the admiration and respect of people throughout the region for his dedication to the tenets of the Catholic faith, leadership abilities, vision and intellect, as well as his personal warmth and sense of humor.
Bishop Jackels has been a staunch supporter of Newman since his arrival in the Diocese, and has appeared at the university many times to celebrate Mass, particularly the semi-annual Baccalaureate Mass, and speak to faculty, staff and students in other settings. During a recent visit he noted that the university is fully living out the key elements of Ex corde Ecclesiae, an apostolic constitution issued by Pope John Paul II that outlines the role and operation of Catholic universities, particularly in terms of Catholic identity, mission, ecclesial communion, and service rendered. He noted, among other remarks: “Let me be clear that fidelity to Catholic identity is not a concern at Newman University; this is a Catholic university worth preserving.”
Originally from Rapid City, S.D., Bishop Jackels studied at the University of Nebraska from 1972 to 1974, then entered St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Ky., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He studied theology at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln in 1981. He served as pastor or assistant pastor in several schools and parishes in the diocese, then left to pursue post-graduate studies in Rome, where he earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (spiritual theology) at Pontifical University of St. Thomas. Bishop Jackels worked for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome for eight years under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. He was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1994.
Alice and Dale Wiggins
Alice (Biggs) and Dale Wiggins have a long history of service and of helping the less fortunate in the community. Alice, now retired from a career in nursing, graduated in 1985 from Kansas Newman College, now Newman University, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Dale is a two-time graduate of Wichita State University. He is a founding partner of Daland Corporation, a management company and independent franchisee that operates 11 separate corporations that own Pizza Hut restaurants throughout the upper Midwest and Eastern Seaboard.
Dale and Alice have been generous supporters through both time and resources to many Catholic charitable organizations. They played a significant role in the development of the Guadalupe Clinic. Alice began volunteering at the Guadalupe Health Station shortly after it opened in 1985. At that time it was staffed mostly by volunteer nurses to provide health screening to the poor. The need for more involved medical care was quickly determined, and it has since developed into the Guadalupe Clinic, now a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita that offers free or low-cost medical services to low-income residents of Wichita. Alice volunteers there to this day, as well as parish nursing and counseling at A Better Choice. The Wiggins remain active with the clinic and the Annual Midwest Winefest, which has raised more than $2.5 million in support of the clinic through the Guadalupe Health Foundation, of which Dale is a board member.
The Wiggins have been longstanding supporters of Newman University, and Dale served as a member of the Newman Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1988. Dale and Alice have also supported many other educational and civic organizations, including Wichita State University, The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, Rainbows United, Wichita Habitat for Humanity and Holy Savior Catholic Academy.
Dale and Alice were early collaborators on the concept of “stewardship,” as it was developed by Monsignor Thomas McGread for St. Francis of Assisi Parish, where they were longtime members. They served on the Diocesan Stewardship Committee for many years. Dale was on the original Board of Directors of the Lord’s Diner. They are members of Legatus, and recently served on the Honorary Committee for the “Together Vision” campaign of the Diocese, and as honorary chairs of the “Building the Tradition” campaign of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School. Dale and Alice are now members of St. Catherine of Siena Parish and serve on their parish council.
The Wiggins have four children, daughters Joni and Jill, both of Kansas City, daughter Julie, of Chicago, and son Chris, of Boston, as well as 13 grandchildren.