honorary doc

An Honorary Doctorate

An Honorary Doctorate was conferred on Rev. Catherine A. Hamilton on May 2, 2022, at a joint convocation of the United Theological College and the Montreal Diocesan Theological College. The ceremony was held at Montreal’s Christ Church Cathedral.


“An honorary degree is given by a college or university to  someone who is not a student by who has done something important (Merriam-Webster.com).”


Business executive (retired), Reverend of the United Church of Canada (retired), now Doctor of Divinity (DD)!

You can read the full announcement from the United Theological College.

Cathy giving acceptance speech
Cathy's Doctor of Divinity stole

Through it all she was and still is, wife, mother (now grandmother) and my friend for over 60 years. I was honoured to have been invited to attend the convocation; how often does one get to witness the granting of an Honorary Doctorate?! But it was not possible…so the next best thing to being there in person was to participate on-line.


Another friend who watched on-line noted “It was the most personal convocation I have ever attended.” I totally agree.


I am thrilled Cathy has allowed me to feature her story in my blog, for she is a truly humble and an extraordinarily inspirational person you should all know about!

Honorary Doc
Dr. Catherine (Cathy) Ann Hamilton

In Cathy’s response to the announcement, she wrote:

“A friend said of this degree ‘It is one thing to work for something and earn a degree. It is quite another to have your work noticed and raised up for all to see.’ I am surprised and humbled by this honour.”


When asked: What inspired you to do what you did as a Minister of the Church (to get the award)?

  • God inspired me. I understand humanity to have been created each one with different skills and weaknesses. We are made to be perfect for something particular. My skills are in hearing people and finding ways to create bridges between them.
  • I did that in business when I worked as an executive at The Gazette. I learned to do that in a second language when I prepared for ministry in a changing culture in Quebec. And it is a skill I brought to the churches I served.
  • When the Comprehensive Review Task group of the United Church was formed, my skill at listening and organizing meant that we worked to engage people in the process of change, and we listened to what they believed to be important; things not only to change but to preserve.
  • In the Laurentian Area Ministry I used my skill  to help to translate, not only between cultures, but between communities who did not understand each other’s needs.  The inspiration is to be who I was created to be, to live into the fullness of who I have always been.
Rev. Cathy Hamilton and Rev. Joëlle Leduc

In the photo above, courtesy of parishioner Terry Chuprun, Rev. Hamilton and ministry partner Rev. Leduc are wearing their distinctive matching Laurentian Area Ministry stoles.

When asked: What are the highlights of your life and career?

  • I have a friend I met in elementary school who has stuck by me in spite of long periods where I failed to maintain the connection.
  • I had loving parents who challenged the norms, and supported me even as they expected great things from their daughter.
  • I achieved an MBA, studying at night while maintaining a full-time job, mourning the death of my mother and birthing two of my three children.
  • I have encountered God on mountain tops, in hospital rooms, in melody and harmony, in river currents from a canoe, in the pudgy limbs of babies and in the faces of ancient elders.
  • I was given a new life, meeting Paul after my divorce; a new life which has allowed me to pursue ministry, build relationships with children and grandchildren, to learn and grow, laugh and cry.
  • Standing at the microphone at the United Church General Council meeting, asking the whole church to take the bold step to reorganize its structure, to step into a new way of being, one which was not yet fully defined. They said “Yes”, overwhelmingly.

Press the button to see a map of the 9 churches that make up the Laurentian Area Ministry.

Here are Cathy’s responses to these “Proust” questions:


  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A. The Shalom of God, a world of plenty, welcome and love for all.

2. Which talent would you most like to have?  A. Each of the things I thought of: being able to sing in harmony, hitting a golf ball more accurately, making consistent take-outs in curling, rolling out pie crust, being calmer in times of conflict. These things are all talents that could be improved with practice…


3. Who are your heroes in real life?  A. Jesus. He always stood for those who were outside the circle of privilege. He was calm in the face of confrontation and determined. He remembered how we are enlightened by prayer and invited others to join him. 


4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  A. I would be kinder to telemarketers when they call.


5. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  A. Establishing the Laurentian Area Ministry, a cooperative of 9 small communities of faith north of Montreal. It involved developing trust between the communities, in spite of historic difference, working in two languages, and changing ministry practices from being “served” by a solo minister to participating in a collective that shared resources.


6. What is your most marked characteristic?  A. Turns out I am quite short, although I do not perceive myself to be so. I am very good at listening and creating clarity from a complex conversation.


7. What is your favourite occupation?  A. Discovering new things, in nature, in people, in creation.


8. What is your greatest fear?  A. That racism, homophobia, and other behaviours based in fear of the other will grow, and that the systems in which these behaviours are based will gather strength rather than being dismantled. I hope for reconciliation and healing among the peoples.

9. What is your greatest extravagance?  A. Travelling abroad, laughing with my beloved Paul, always up for an adventure. “Follow me, I know where I’m going!”

The photos are courtesy of P. Tidman.

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