Fr. Gregorio L. Bañaga, Jr., C.M., DePaul University honorary degree recipient

Date Posted: October 4, 2016 at 08:59 AM


The following text is from DePaul University’s 118th Commencement (June 11-12, 2016) program.

HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT

Rev. Gregorio L. Bañaga, Jr., C.M.
Vincentian and Higher Education Leader

Catholic education is at the heart of the career of the Rev. Gregorio Bañaga, Jr., C.M. An influential leader and advocate in the Philippines and beyond, Fr. Bañaga empowered educators at every level to embrace their Catholic identity, improve their academic rigor and find meaning in their work. Fr. Bañaga believes that a robust education is made stronger when it is values-based and rooted in faith. In his roles as a university president and leader of a national association of Catholic schools, Fr. Bañaga has emphasized that education not only can improve individual lives, but also can lift an entire nation.

   Growing up in the Philippines, religious members of Fr. Bañaga’s family inspired him to consider the priesthood. He entered the Congregation of the Mission at a young age and was sent to Adamson University to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. In 1979, he received a master’s degree in theology and was ordained as a priest. During the early years of his priesthood, Fr. Bañaga gave popular missions to different parts of the country and later became a pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Manila. After eight years he was assigned to the seminary to teach and train the future priests. Looking back on this time, Fr. Bañaga says that his work as a missionary and seminary professor gave him a “foundation of faith” that would follow him throughout his journey as Vincentian.

   Fr. Bañaga continued his studies in the United States, earning a doctorate in organizational behavior in 1999 from Case Western Reserve University, His leadership skills were unmistakable, and soon he was called to serve back in the Philippines.

   In 2003, he became the first alumnus to be named the president of his alma mater, Adamson University. The school was founded by a Greek chemist and later was bought under the direction of the Congregation of the Mission. Fr. Bañaga soon emerged as a visionary leader who would launch the university into a new era of growth.

     In his 12 years of service as Adamson’s president, Fr. Banaga was known for his compassionate leadership, acknowledging the vital role of every individual in making a university run harmoniously. He led the university through a rigorous and successful accreditation process, and Adamson rose in the rankings as a result. Today it enjoys an “autonomous status” granted by the Commission on Higher Education-one among only 59 higher education institutions in the country with this status. He also reconnected the school with its Vincentian mission and heritage. By creating service opportunities and programs, he offered students tangible ways to use their talents to give back to the community.

    Fr. Bañaga also has influenced the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, overseeing more than 1,300 schools throughout the country. He helped bring resources and guidance to educators working in struggling mission schools in remote areas, empowering teachers who were providing a basic education to the country’s poor and marginalized.

    Fr. Bañaga’s work at the university and his tireless advocacy for the Catholic education system have made a lasting difference. His zeal and vision inspired teachers and students to achieve at higher levels and to use their own success to help lift others out of poverty.   

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