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Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award - 2013 Recipient

Professor Mark McGowan has been named the recipient of the Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award. The award was presented at Christian Community Day, November 8, 2013. 

mark-mcgowanMark McGowan is a specialist in the religious, social, migration, and educational history of Canada and is well known in the Canadian media for his analysis of Vatican affairs and the development of religion in Canada. Growing up, he attended Our Lady of Peace Elementary School and St. Pius X High School.

He holds an honours bachelor’ s degree in history and religion from the University of Ottawa (1982) and Masters and Doctoral degrees in history from the University of Toronto. After teaching in the History Department at the University of Ottawa, he was hired by St. Michael’s College, in 1991, where he taught in the Christianity & Culture and Celtic Studies programs, and in the History Department at the University of Toronto.

From 2002 to 2011, Mark served as Principal and Vice-President Academic, of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto. In this position, he was responsible for the directorship of five academic programs, over sixty faculty members, and a student body of over 4,500 undergraduate students. As Principal, he organized symposia, supervised research projects, and coordinated international conferences, the most recent being the international association of book historians (SHARP). In directing five interdisciplinary programs he was dedicated to building partnerships between university departments, instructors, researchers, and deans of faculties. He also applied his communication skills as part of the broadcast team for the CBC's live coverage of Pope John Paul's visit to World Youth Day, Toronto, 2002. Mark is currently is co-ordinator of the Book and Media Studies program, which he founded at St. Mike’s in 2003.

In 1999 Mark published The Waning of the Green: Catholics, the Irish and Identity in Toronto, 1887-1922 which won both the Brant Prize (OHS) and the Clio Award (CHA). Mark also completed the first full-length biography of Michael Power (1804-1847), the first bishop of Toronto, which won the Toronto Historical Board’s Award of Excellence. His book Death or Canada: The Great Famine Migration and Toronto, 1847, a study of how the city of Toronto survived and was shaped by the massive influx of indigent Irish famine migrants in 1847, was a best seller and was turned into a Irish-Canada docudrama, which was nominated for a Gemini and IFTA award.

Mark is highly regarded by his students and fellow professors, authors and researchers. He is the recipient of four University of Toronto teaching awards, is a past President of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association and currently serves as President of the Canadian Society of Church History. He is the recent recipient of a SSHRC grant to investigate Irish Catholic migration and settlement in Nova Scotia.

In Ontario Catholic school circles Mark is better known for his public advocacy for Catholic education and for his booklet, The Enduring Gift: Catholic Education in the Province of Ontario, which offers a brief overview of the history of Catholic education in the Province.

The Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award includes a $5000 donation made on behalf of the recipient to the Catholic school of his choice. Mark has chosen to split the donation between two schools: Our Lady of Peace and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. The father of five children, Mark and his wife Eileen live in Whitby, Ontario.

Mark McGowan lecture

Watch Mark speak at the Holy Cross Historical Trust annual lecture series. His talk, Halifax in a North Atlantic Irish World, was presented October 10, 2013 at St. Mary's University in Halifax.


The Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award

Established in 2010, the Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award acknowledges an alumnus who has achieved a high level of distinction and recognition in his or her chosen field, while exhibiting positive Catholic values reflecting the characteristics described by the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board presents the Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award annually during the Christian Community Day celebration in the Fall.

A $5,000 donation is made, on behalf of the recipient, to the Catholic school of his/her choice. A plaque of recognition is be maintained in the Ottawa Catholic School Board, with recipient names added annually; the recipient(s) will receive a personal memento plaque. The award may be presented posthumously, through a family member if possible, with the donation being given to the last school in our Board attended by the recipient.