Villanova Alumnus Named Cardinal

American-born Augustinian friar is chosen by Pope Francis

Cardinal Robert Francis Prevost sits across from Pope Francis at a desk in the Vatican

On July 9, to those faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis appeared at his balcony window to announce that he would elevate 21 churchmen to the high rank of cardinal. One of the chosen was the American-born Cardinal Robert Francis Prevost, OSA, ’77 CLAS, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops.

“This is an office of the utmost responsibility and service to the universal Church,” says the Rev. Robert Hagan, OSA, JD, ’87 CLAS, prior provincial of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. “Our hearts rejoice for our brother Bob, who has earned this position through years of faithful service and love of God.”

The honor comes just months after Cardinal Prevost was named prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops (formerly Congregation of Bishops), an advisory role to the pope, with the title Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Chiclayo, Peru. He was also appointed the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Bishop Prevost began both of these roles on April 12, 2023.

In an interview with Vatican News the day after the announcement, Cardinal Prevost recalled the words of St. Pope Paul VI, saying that “being a cardinal is a mission of love with Christ, our Savior,” and that “a cardinal is called to give his whole life in service to the Church.”

Pope Francis formally installed Cardinal Prevost and the cardinal-designates on Sept. 30, during a meeting of the College of Cardinals at the Vatican on the eve of the Synod on Synodality in Rome. 

History in the Making

A historic moment for the Church, the Synod on Synodality is a three-year process of listening and dialogue about matters pertaining to the Catholic Church and its teachings that will culminate in 2024. Since 2021, Villanova has helped spearhead the Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This coalition of Philadelphia-area Catholic colleges and universities as well as three Newman centers is working to empower college students to accept Pope Francis’ invitation to participate in the global synod. As part of the process, more than 400 students have engaged in more than 50 listening sessions across participating campuses, including Villanova.



Lt. Cmdr. Akeeka Davis, USN, NC, RN, MSN, MBA