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Spring Commencement Speaker is Father Joel McNeil

(Des Moines) - Father Joel McNeil, Pastor, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center and Diocesan Director of Campus Ministry will be the spring commencement speaker for Mercy College of Health Sciences, 928 6th Avenue, on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Fr. Joel McNeil was ordained a priest in 1987 and has served parishes in a variety of contexts (inner-city, Hispanic, rural, and suburban).  Before coming to Des Moines he was the pastor of a large bilingual parish near Austin, TX. While there he was instrumental in relocating the parish from its original 5 acre site to 30 acres near I-35.

In 2009 he was appointed by Bishop Richard E. Pates, of the Diocese of Des Moines, to serve as the pastor of the St. Catherine’s, which is also the Newman Center at Drake University. He was also named the first director of campus ministry for the diocese of Des Moines. This past year a pastoral plan was developed that strives to serve the nearly 10,000 Catholic students that attend 12 campuses of higher education in southwest Iowa.

Fr. McNeil has been a presence on campus at Mercy College this year, taking part in prayer services, as a guest in classes, offering Bible study, and being available to students in our new office of campus ministry.

He attended the University of Nebraska as a Regent’s Scholar before going on to graduate from Saint Mary’s University in Winona, MN with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, IL with a Masters in Divinity.

Mercy College will confer degrees to 158 Associate and Bachelor of Science candidates in nine different health care disciplines, at a ceremony held at Iowa Events Center, HyVee Hall C, 730 Third, Des Moines, Iowa.

The 2:30 p.m. commencement event is open to the public.  A reception, hosted by President Barbara Decker, for graduates and their families will be held immediately following the ceremony in the Sullivan Center Lobby for light refreshments.

Mercy College is the only Catholic college in Central Iowa and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). For additional information, visit the Mercy College website at


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For additional information contact:

Jim Tagye
Marketing Manager
Mercy College of Health Sciences
Phone: (515) 643-6678
Fax: (515) 643-6698



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