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Bishop Vann, Fr. Link receive SHST honors for distinguished service

The Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, Calif., is the winner of the 2013 Sacred Heart School of Theology Archbishop Cousins Vocations Award, for his longstanding support of Sacred Heart School of Theology. 

The Rev. David Link, the former law school dean who entered the seminary at age 68, received the seminary's 2013 Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award, for his exemplary service in prison ministry.

The Archbishop Cousins Vocations Award honors an organization or individual who has demonstrated distinguished effort, involvement, and promotion of vocations among men over 30 to the Roman Catholic priesthood. Bishop Vann is the 26th recipient of the award.

Bishop Vann’s support has helped Sacred Heart continue to strengthen its programs each year by placing his faith in the seminary for the formation of his seminarians, and his firm belief in the value of priestly vocations for men over the age of 30. Since 2005, he has brought a hands-on approach that is truly impressive. As an active sponsor who has sent many seminarians to SHST from the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, he has provided invaluable advice and counsel to seminarians and to the seminary leadership, especially in the area of vocations among older men. Most recently, as Bishop of Orange, he has already recommended two men for Sacred Heart from Orange. One is here this semester. 

Additionally, he has served the seminary community by giving lectures and presiding at special liturgies, including a Day of Recollection here in 2009, and presiding at the Institution of Readers in 2011. 

Bishop Vann was ordained to the priesthood in 1981 after a brief career as a medical technologist. He earned his doctor of canon law degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome in 1985. He was named bishop of Fort Worth in 2005. Bishop Vann was a leader in the Texas Conference of Bishops, providing direction for various initiatives at the national level, including service on an ad hoc committee which assisted the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church of the United States. He is a member of the USCCB Committee on Migration, as well as the Canonical Affairs Committee. He speaks Spanish and Vietnamese in addition to English. 

In acknowledgement of Bishop Vann’s strong leadership in Texas, Pope Benedict XVI tapped him to be shepherd of Orange’s 1.2 million Catholics in September of 2012. 

The Archbishop Cousins award was established by Sacred Heart School of Theology to commemorate Milwaukee Archbishop Cousins’ 60th anniversary of priesthood and to recognize his leadership role in promoting vocations. Sacred Heart Board Chair Mary Meehan, the president of Alvero College, presented the award. 

The Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award is presented annually in honor of Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. The award recognizes an alumnus of Sacred Heart who has given distinguished service to the Church and humankind in professional or volunteer endeavors, in leadership in civic or social work, or in the promotion of intellectual or cultural pursuits. 

Fr. David Link, a 2008 graduate of Sacred Heart School of Theology, received the award for his service to inmates in maximum security prisons in northern Indiana. 

At a time in his life when most people retire, Dr. Link felt called to serve the Church, and became a seminarian at Sacred Heart. After his graduation and ordination he went to work healing and forgiveness to those who many would call the least of society. 

The Rev. David T. Link is assistant director of religious services for the Northern Region of the Indiana Department of Correction. He serves as the chaplain at the Indiana State Prison, a maximum security facility. He serves men of all faiths and, in his capacity as Deputy Director for Religious Services, also assists offenders in the Department’s PLUS (Purposeful Living Units Serve) program, a faith and character-based re-entry initiative. 

In his relatively short time in ministry, he is building on a lifetime of service and remarkable leadership. Before the loss of his wife of 45 years and his call to the seminary, he was dean of Notre Dame Law School, after working in private practice. He was appointed to be the first president of the University of Notre Dame in Perth, Australia; the founding dean of the law school at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis-St. Paul; and the deputy vice chancellor and provost of the University of St. Augustine in South Africa. He also co-founded the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana, and served as chairman of the Council of Providers of Services to the Homeless. South Bend is widely regarded as a model community in its support for individuals experiencing homelessness, and Fr. Link was a key figure in initiating that effort.

Link is the father of five and grandfather of 13 children.

His remarkable story inspired a book about him, written by Maura Poston Zagrans, entitled, Camerado, I Give you my Hand – How a Powerful Lawyer-Turned-Priest is Changing the Lives of Men Behind Bars. The book was published earlier this year by Crown Publishing. 

Sacred Heart President-Rector Msgr. Ross Shecterle presented the honor. 

The awards were presented Oct. 16 at Sacred Heart's annual Awards Dinner, a gala that culminates the seminary's annual three-day Alumni Gathering.

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