LIVONIA, MICH. – Bishop Donald F. Hanchon will give the keynote address at Madonna University’s 76th Commencement to be held, Saturday, May 13, at 11 a.m., at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Bishop Hanchon will speak to some 380 of Madonna’s 730 graduates. Madonna’s Class of 2023 includes 10 doctoral candidates, 129 master’s and education specialist graduates, and nearly 600 undergraduate students, including 14 of 32 Haitian graduates who traveled to Michigan to take part in the ceremony. The degrees were earned in Madonna’s School of Business, and the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Development, and Nursing and Health.
“We are blessed to have Bishop Hanchon speak to our graduates this year, and we are pleased to bestow upon him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters,” said Ian S. Day, Madonna’s interim president. “A caring servant-leader, and long-time friend and trustee of the University, he is the perfect speaker to inspire our graduates to use their degrees to change the world,” he added.
As part of the Commencement ceremony, the Madonna University community also will honor internationally-recognized humanitarian Najah Bazzy with the Distinguished Alumna Award. Her bio is below.
Bishop Donald F. Hanchon was born in Jackson, Michigan and grew up in St. Mary’s Parish in Wayne, Michigan, the middle of seven children. He attended Cardinal Mooney Latin School, the high school on the campus of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary. He graduated from Sacred Heart Seminary and St. John’s Provincial Seminary and earned a Master’s degree in Theology from the University of Detroit Mercy, a Master’s in Liturgy from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master’s in Ministry from St. John’s Provincial Seminary.
Bishop Hanchon was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1974. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron appointed him the 26th Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit in 2011.
Except for serving at St. Mark Parish in Warren and St. Joseph Parish in Monroe, Bishop Hanchon’s entire ministry was spent in Detroit, including 12 years as pastor of the city’s largest Spanish-speaking parish, Holy Redeemer in southwest Detroit, (1999 to 2011). For the past 12 years, he’s served as the moderator for the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Central Region encompassing Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, and as a voice for the marginalized. In addition to administrative duties, he enjoyed administering the Sacrament of Confirmation as the Archbishop’s delegate, oftentimes incorporating music into his homily. Accompanied by his trademark ukulele, he would sing “This Little Light of Mine”, a big hit with young people.
His roles with the Archdiocese have been many, including as spiritual director at Sacred Heart Seminary, director of vocations, and coordinator for Detroit’s Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
Bishop Hanchon has served on Madonna University’s Board of Trustees for 11 years and has celebrated Graduation Mass most all those years. Bishop Hanchon submitted his resignation last fall when he turned 75, as required by canon law, and Pope Francis accepted the resignation March 3, 2023. He continues to serve Jesus and the community.
An internationally recognized healer, humanitarian and interfaith leader, Najah Bazzy, left a six-figure salary as a critical-care nurse to build Zaman International. The Metro-Detroit-based non-profit – focused on empowering marginalized women and children to break the cycle of extreme poverty – has helped more than 2.87 million people in 20 countries since 2010.
Born and raised in Southeast Michigan, Bazzy earned a bachelor of science in nursing degree in 1998 from Madonna University and specialized in critical care and transcultural nursing. She remembers the pivotal moment that gave birth to Zaman International; the day she entered Madonna University’s DiPonio Building with her four children and saw a sign for Global Transcultural Nursing. Her Madonna degree changed her life, and she has changed the lives of many around the world.
The CEO of Diversity Specialists, Bazzy has received many accolades, including being named one of the top six Muslim female thought leaders by Global Woman Magazine in 2022, one of USA Today’s Women of the Year for 2023, a 2019 Top Ten CNN Hero, one of Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women in 2021, and Detroit News Michiganian of the Year. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, profiled on CBS 62’s Eye on the Future: The Power of Women, and featured on a United Way of Southeast Michigan billboard as a source of inspiration to Detroit-area youth.
An avid reader and tea aficionado, Najah lives in Canton, Mich., with her husband of more than 35 years, Allie Bazzy. They have four children and five grandchildren.
About Madonna: Liberal arts education, career preparation, and service learning have been the hallmarks of a Madonna University education for 85 years. In addition to the beautiful main campus, conveniently located at I-96 and Levan Road in Livonia, Madonna offers academic programs in Gaylord, Macomb, and online in Haiti and the United Arab Emirates. Michigan’s most affordable, independent, Catholic, liberal arts university, Madonna offers more than 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate programs in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Development, and Nursing and Health, as well as the School of Business.