St. John Fisher College to Bestow President’s Medals upon Mary Wilson, Fr. Thomas Dugan

April 17, 2017

During the 63rd Commencement Ceremony of St. John Fisher College, President Gerard J. Rooney will bestow president’s medals upon two deserving members of the Western New York community. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 13, at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.

Mary Wilson, wife of the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., will be given the President’s Medal for Service to St. John Fisher College, which honors her decades-long philanthropic efforts at the College. Reverand Thomas Dugan, C.S.B., a member of the Congregation of St. Basil, will receive the President’s Medal for Service to the Basilian Missions, in recognition of the 50 years he dedicated to parishes in Mexico.

“Each year, the President’s Medals give the College the opportunity to honor those who have made a profound impact, not just on Fisher, but on the world around them,” said Rooney. “Both Mrs. Wilson and Fr. Dugan set a wonderful example to our graduates about how to live a life dedicated to service and community, and it is my sincere privilege to present them with these medals.”

Mary Wilson and the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

A native of Texas, Wilson holds a degree in physical education from Trinity University in San Antonio and had a successful career as a tennis coach in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Upon moving to Western New York, she became an ardent advocate of the Buffalo area. Over the last decade, she developed the Western New York Girls in Sports program, which biannually brings over 200 9-12-year-old girls together to participate in various sports taught by young athletes from local universities and sports clubs. The program is now ensured to run in perpetuity as the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County - through an endowment from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation - is organizing the program, which is held at the University at Buffalo. She has also been involved in various fundraising projects benefiting communities in Buffalo, Erie County, and Detroit; including Hospice of Western New York, Buffalo SPCA, WNY Women’s Foundation, Susan B. Anthony House, Food Bank of Western New York, Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Michigan Chapter, and Kaleida Health Foundation, to name a few.

In addition to their dedication to the Buffalo area, the Wilson family have been generous supporters of the College. They made substantial gifts to the College’s Take Stock in Fisher Campaign in 2001 and the Capital Campaign Academic Building Extension Fund in 2002, which led to the creation of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education.  In 2011, another pledge - designated to the Vision 2020 Capital Campaign - resulted in the renaming of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Athletic Center.  The Wilsons have also pledged academic support, in the form of a gift to the First Generation Scholarship Program, in memory of the former College President Katherine Keough.

Of all the support they have given to the College, moving the Buffalo Bills Summer Training Camp to the College in 2001 has been one of the more monumental and impactful gifts.  In 2017, the partnership will be in its 18th year.

As one of four Life Trustees of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Wilson remains committed to improving the lives of the people of Western New York for many years to come.

Fr. Thomas Dugan, C.S.B.

Born in Rochester in 1929, Dugan is a graduate of the Aquinas Institute, and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. He studied theology at St. Basil’s Seminary, also located in Toronto, and was ordained in 1960.

During his fourth year at the seminary, he traveled to the southwest area of Texas to engage in missionary work through the Basilian Texas Mission. For two years, he worked with Mexican immigrants building parishes in underserved neighborhoods.

Upon graduation from the seminary, he served as a teacher at Aquinas for one year. In 1965, he was assigned to perform ministry work in Mexico, and would spend 50 years providing missionary work throughout the country. He spent 20 years in Tehuacan, Pueblo, working in the Parroquia San Lorenzo, and spent seven years serving the small mountain city of Caltepec, in southeastern Mexico. In both parishes, he delivered Mass, and performed countless weddings, funerals, and baptisms.

While abroad, he helped the Basilian Fathers develop a program to prepare parents and children for a life of faith. The La Ataquesis Familiar program is aimed at catechizing parents, leading them through the four sacraments. With the help of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the program spread through a number of cities in Mexico, and still continues today.

Upon his retirement in 2015, Dugan returned to Rochester, and currently resides at the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Rochester Motherhouse, where he delivers Mass monthly and continues to engage in service.