Photo of honorary degree awardees
April 27, 2022

LACEY, Wash. – During the Saint Martin’s University 2022 Commencement on May 7, 2022, the University will award honorary degrees to three outstanding individuals: Father James E. Lee, pastor of Saint Michael Parish, Olympia; Sister Angela Hoffman, O.S.B., ’71, a member of the Benedictine sisters at St. Placid Priory and faculty at the University of Portland; and Kathleen Heynderickx, advocate for Saint Martin’s University and the wife of President Roy F. Heynderickx. Father Lee, Sister Angela, and Kathleen Heynderickx will be recognized as doctors of humane arts, honoris causa. 

“Each year Saint Martin’s recognizes community members whose achievements inspire others to live with heart,” said Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D. “This year we are proud and honored to recognize three individuals that exemplify the importance of our mission: Father James Lee for his service to the Catholic community, Sister Angela Hoffman for her commitment to serving and improving the field of science, and Kathleen Heynderickx for her service to the Saint Martin’s community.”

Father James E. Lee

Father Lee was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1975. He received a master of divinity and served as a missionary priest in Tanzania, East Africa from 1972 until 1982. In 1979, he received a master of science in pastoral counseling and spirituality from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. Father Lee joined the formation department of Maryknoll in 1982 until 1986. Before planning to return to Tanzania, he came to the Seattle archdiocese at the invitation of a priest friend to spend a year on sabbatical. He served as parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Burien. During that time, he discerned that God was calling him to serve in the Northwest. In 1990, Archbishop Hunthausen assigned him as pastor to Assumption Parish in Bellingham. In 1997, Archbishop Murphy assigned him as pastor of Saint Michael Parish in Olympia. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in November 2017. He continues his ministry in the face of the ongoing muscular degeneration and deterioration of his physical abilities. Father Lee has held several positions in the archdiocese and has been on the board of Pope John Paul II High School in Lacey. He values the importance of the interplay of faith, reason, service, and community in the formation of a lively and robust Catholic faith. Father Lee is deeply honored to be awarded this honorary doctorate.

Sister Angela Hoffman, O.S.B. ’71

Sister Angela Hoffman is a proud member of the Benedictine Sisters at St. Placid Priory. She grew up within earshot of the Abbey Angelus bells. As a first-generation student, she earned a bachelor of science in education at Saint Martin’s in 1971. After teaching elementary through high school in Tacoma and Lacey, she spent four years at the Pacific Science Center. Upon returning to Tacoma, she earned a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) degree and a bachelor of science degree in biology at Pacific Lutheran University. She also taught teacher education courses and organic chemistry at Saint Martin’s while earning her degrees. She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Oregon Health Sciences University and has taught chemistry courses at the University of Portland since 1988. 

She has served in various leadership positions with the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Oregon Academy of Science (OAS), and the University of Portland (UP). Mentoring students in STEM is an important part of her career, including 290 undergraduate students, 60 high school Saturday Academy and Project SEED students, and 7 Murdock Partners in Science high school teachers. Some awards include election as a fellow of both American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of ACS, the James Culligan Award by UP, the Award for Outstanding Teacher in Science and Mathematics in Higher Education (OAS), and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Saint Martin’s. Sister and her undergraduate research students are finding small organic molecules with biological activity that have not been described yet. Their focus is on the discovery of natural compounds made by plants, soil bacteria, and fungi from inside healthy plant cells. Current projects include the search for antibiotics made by bacteria (actinomycetes) from soil found in or near 2000-year-old graves at a Roman-era village on the Balearic Island of Mallorca. They also study compounds made by plants for drug leads, natural herbicides, and natural pesticides, which have led to several patents, publications, and hundreds of conference presentations.

Kathleen Heynderickx

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Kathleen Heynderickx (née Philip) was the second eldest of seven children. Since childhood, she had a great love for both art and gardening, believing that “gardening is art.” A perennial student, she pursued these interests at three different schools. After high school, she attended Mount Hood Community College where she took jewelry and oil planting classes. She later enrolled at Portland Community College where she majored in commercial art. She then returned to college as an adult student, attending Clackamas Community College to take courses in horticulture. Kathleen also worked at Ferguson’s Fragrant Nursery, a well-loved family-owned nursery in Oregon .

Kathleen moved with her husband, Dr. Roy Heynderickx, to Olympia, Washington in 2009, when he became the tenth president of Saint Martin’s University. Since joining the Saint Martin’s family, Kathleen has been the embodiment of Benedictine hospitality and respect for others. Kathleen made it her mission early on to be visible to and as involved with the students as possible. She wanted them to know they should be seen as individuals, each on their own journey at Saint Martin’s. With her welcoming nature, she would meet up with students, joining them for walks, playing disc golf, riding her longboard with them around campus, or participating in student-led events, including dancing in the annual luau. She and Dr. Stephen Parker co-captained an intramural volleyball team called “Smackulty” for five years. She and Dr. Heynderickx often hosted students at their house for dinner and valued hearing about their experiences and their aspirations. One of her favorite activities in recent years has been volunteering at Our Common Home Farms, a community farming program launched by Saint Martin's University in collaboration with Pope John Paul II High School and several community partners. She loves the mission around growing sustainable, ethically produced crops to provide nutritious food for families in need. Working on the farm has allowed her to combine her lifelong love of gardening with her commitment to service and helping others.  

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors and 11 graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing, and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  

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