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For Immediate Release: April 8, 2013

Acclaimed Theologian and Filmmaker to Deliver Providence College Commencement Address on Sunday, May 19, 2013

fbarron.jpgProvidence, R.I. – The Very Reverend Robert Barron, creator and host of the Catholicism documentary series and founder of a global media ministry, will receive an honorary doctorate in religious education and present the Commencement Address at Providence College’s Ninety-Fifth Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 19, 2013. The ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, 1 LaSalle Square, Providence, R.I.

Father Barron will be one of five honorary degree recipients. The others are Paul J. Birmingham, founder of the Catholic Schools Foundation that serves the Archdiocese of Boston; Vito D. Buonomano, D.D.S. ’53& ’76G  and his wife, Louise J. Buonomano ’76G, longtime benefactors and volunteers at the College and in the community; and Michael A. Ruane ’71, immediate past chairman of the Board of Trustees at PC. Ruane and his wife, Elisabeth, were the lead donors for the College’s new Ruane Center for the Humanities, named for them, which is scheduled to open in September 2013. The Ruane Atrium on campus is also named in their honor.

Father Barron is rector-president of Mundelein Seminary University of St. Mary of the Lake, the major seminary and school of theology for the Archdiocese of Chicago. An author, speaker, and theologian, he founded Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, a global media ministry that uses the tools of new media to draw people to the Church.

He is an on-air contributor and analyst for NBC News in New York and a commentator for the Chicago Tribune, FOX News, CNN, EWTN, Our Sunday Visitor, The Catholic Herald in London, and Catholic News Agency. He has written many books, including Eucharist (Orbis Books, 2008), Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ (The Crossroad Publishing Co., 2008), and The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism (Brazos Press, 2007). His book Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master (The Crossroad Publishing Co., 1996) was awarded a first prize for spirituality by the Catholic Press Association. 

In addition, he has written essays and DVD programs, and his articles on theology and the spiritual life appear in online and print journals.  

Father Barron was ordained in 1986 and was appointed to the theological faculty of Mundelein Seminary in 1992. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and at the

Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He was twice a scholar-in-residence at the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican.

Father Barron holds a master’s degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

The Catholicism series, which Father Barron created with producer Michael Leonard ’70 & ’00 Hon. and director Matt Leonard ’93, received a Christopher Award for excellence. It has aired on PBS and EWTN and has been shown by parishes and universities throughout the world.  

Father Barron and Word on Fire will release a new documentary, Catholicism: The New Evangelization, this year.

Additional honorees:

paulbirm.jpgPaul J. Birmingham will receive an honorary doctorate in humanitarian service. He entered Providence College as a member of the Class of 1963 but left in 1961 to marry and begin a family. Though he did not complete his degree, he always has been considered a class member by his classmates.

In 1983, recognizing that private philanthropy was needed to support Catholic education in Boston, Birmingham founded the St. Anthony Fund, later renamed the Catholic Schools Foundation. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $100 million to support Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston.

More recently, Birmingham challenged the foundation to reach out to immigrant Hispanics in the archdiocese by funding the Hispanic Recruitment Initiative, making Catholic education possible for an under-served population.

His family foundation, The Birmingham Foundation, supports Catholic causes, including the new Pope John Paul II High School in Hyannis, Mass.

An avid golfer and bicyclist, Birmingham was severely injured six years ago in a head-first fall that left him wheelchair bound. He has battled back with rehabilitation and physical therapy with the goal of walking again.

He has worked in real estate in Florida and on Cape Cod, where he resides with his wife, Pamela. They are the parents of three sons. 

Vito D. Buonomano, D.D.S. ’53& ’76G will receive an honorary doctorate in public service and Louise J. Buonomano ’76G will receive an honorary doctorate in education.

Vito Buonomano earned a degree in biology from PC. He graduated from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1957 and attended the post-doctorate program at the Boston University Graduate School of Dentistry from 1976-1978. 

Buonomano also received an MBA from PC and studied at the Brown University Graduate School of Engineering.  He is a licensed real estate broker and has written articles for professional journals on dentistry, real estate, and financial matters. 

Louise Buonomano, who graduated from Rhode Island College in 1971, became a registered nurse after studying at St. Agnes School of Nursing in Baltimore. She earned a master’s degree in education from PC in 1976 and a doctorate in health education from Boston University in 1979.

She is a retired assistant professor of education at Rhode Island College. During her career, she has worked as a practicing nurse, a nursing school instructor, a teacher, and a professor of special education. She has written numerous articles for professional publications.

In addition to their work for the College, which has included contributing to the Concannon Fitness Center and endowing a scholarship, the Buonomanos are supporters of St. Mary’s Home for Children in North Providence. 

The Buonomano’s have five children.

ruanemike.jpgMichael A. Ruane ’71 will receive an honorary doctorate in business administration. Ruane was the Chairman of Providence College’s Board of Trustees from 2002-2012, and served on the Investment Committee, the Board Affairs Committee, the Development and Alumni Affairs Committee, and as Chair of the Executive Committee. 

He is the Founding Owner, Chairman, and Managing Partner of TA Associates Realty, a Boston-based company founded in 1982 and one of the nation’s largest real estate investment advisory firms. Prior to founding TA Associates Realty, Ruane spent thirteen years at Arthur Young & Company as Manger in the Consulting Division.

In addition to being a Limited Partner in TA Associates entities, Ruane is also a Limited Partner in Media Communications, a money manager investing primarily in communication companies. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Advent Realty Funds, one of the largest private real estate investments trusts, and is Chairman of J-PAC LLC and Medipharm Manufacturing Group.

Ruane sits on Boston Private Bank’s Advisory Board and is on the Board of Directors for both the Hamilton-Wenham Education Fund and the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP). He is a member of the MIT Real Estate Center and a former director of Pension Real Estate Association (PREA). He has been a lecturer at Harvard Business School, and Boston University’s Graduate School of Management presented him with the Boston University Entrepreneurial Award in 1997.

In June 2012, PC broke ground for construction of the Ruane Center for the Humanities, a 63,000-square-foot multi-level facility which is destined to become the signature academic building on the College’s campus. Scheduled to open in fall 2013, it will serve as home to the College’s Development of Western Civilization (DWC) and Liberal Arts Honors programs, the Departments of English and History, and the School of Arts & Sciences.

Ruane received a bachelor’s degree in economics from PC, a master’s in business administration in finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as an Allied Chemical Foundation Fellow and a master’s degree in Taxation (MST). He is a certified C.P.A.

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Chrissy Centazzo
Public Affairs and Community Relations Coordinator
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