2023 STM Distinguished Alumni and STM Medal Recipient honored
By Jacquie Berg, St. Thomas More College
(This article was originally published at stmcollege.ca and is used with permission)
The evening of Oct. 14, 2023 marked a wonderful opportunity to celebrate faith, connect with St. Thomas More College (STM) alumni, friends, family, and colleagues, enjoy food, and drink, and recognize special members of our community at the STM Annual Fall Gathering.
STM campus ministers led a celebration of faith in the St. Thomas More Chapel, which included song, reflection on readings, and STM’s Indigenous Scholar, Harry Lafond leading prayer in the traditional four directions.
New this year, attendees were greeted by a hallway exhibition in the STM Gallery, featuring art by 2023 Distinguished Alumna, Sylvia Regnier, and Ann Donald, the exhibit curator, and college supporter in past annual STM high school art collaborations.
The reception and more formal part of the gathering took place in STM’s Shannon Library.
President Carl Still spoke to the guests about the purpose of a Catholic liberal arts college and the evening honourees – “four outstanding graduates of St. Thomas More College – whose time at the College spanned over 50 years. Their stories attest to how our graduates – stretching from the 1950’s to the 2010’s – have been going out into the world and exploring faith, reason, and justice, while also generously serving others, in their own professions and according to their individual gifts,” said Still.
STM Distinguished Alumni Awards were designed to specifically honour graduates who have taken the mission of the college into the world; made important contributions to their communities; applied their gifts to serve the good of humanity; and celebrated their ongoing relationship with the college.
The 2023 Distinguished Alumni honourees celebrated included Robert and Sylvia Regnier, and the late Desirée Hutton (née Steele).
Robert and Sylvia Regnier
Robert and Sylvia Regnier, who met at the college as students, were recognized for their engaged support and devotion to the STM community, the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, and beyond.
Sylvia remained involved in STM alumni activities as a member of STM corporation, as well as serving as president of the St. Thomas More Newman Alumni Association for several years. Robert served as Newman Centre president.
Nominator and friend, Madeleine Blais-Dahlem spoke about the couple’s “shared values including the arts, environmentalism, social justice, education, Indigenous issues, and disability issues.”
Their commitment to quality education was reflected in their career paths. “Bob became a teacher of teachers, as head of the Educational Foundations Department in the College of Education, while Sylvia became a teacher of children. Both exemplify what is known as Gentle Teaching,” said Blais-Dahlem. “Teaching in a manner committed to increasing the fullness and richness of the experience of life. It is based on a commitment of unconditional love for the most disenfranchised.”
Desirée Steele Hutton
STM Campus Minister Michael MacLean presented the posthumous tribute for Desirée Hutton, 2023 Distinguished Alumna, who died in 2022, sharing how “she was an inspiration to others, and made St. Thomas More College proud to have played a role in the life of such an amazing person.” Accepting on her behalf were her parents David and Dorene Steele.
As a student at St. Thomas More College, Desirée Hutton served on the STM Student Union, ultimately as president, and was elected academic vice-president of the USask Students’ Union.
“Desirée also represented STM at the Canadian Catholic Students Association conference. The light of Desirée’s faith always shone brightly to inspire students, staff, and faculty alike,” added MacLean.
Hutton earned her B.A. with High Honors in Political Studies with a Minor in Social Justice and the Common Good before entering the USask College of Law, where she earned a J.D. with Distinction. After articling as a clerk with the Regina Court of Queen’s Bench she worked as a Crown Prosecutor in Regina. Desirée remained connected to the College and became a member-at-large for STM Corporation.
As she battled ovarian cancer, Hutton established a legacy fund in the hopes that it would lead to a better life for others. The Desirée Hutton (née Steele) Legacy Fund will continue the work close to her heart by helping to remove barriers for marginalized students, supporting community service-oriented learners and students in the first generation of their family to seek post-secondary education.
Joseph J. Dierker
Completing the evening awards, President Still introduced the St. Thomas More Medal criteria set in 1993, “to honour individuals, groups, or organizations that embody in our time the outstanding characteristics of the College namesake, Thomas More – distinguished public service, elevated by personal virtues, including care, integrity, and faith.”
Joseph J. Dierker, K.C. was honored at the Fall Gathering as the 2023 STM Medal recipient.
A member of STM’s graduating class of 1957, Dierker additionally obtained his Juris Doctor at the University of Saskatchewan, was admitted to the Saskatchewan Bar, designated as Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.), and was recognized nationally (among many accolades) for his tireless work in the development and implementation of Canadian tax laws for credit unions and co-operatives.
President Still also celebrated Dierker’s service and care for the College, his community, and his family, adding, “Joe’s active participation in his faith community, and dedication in supporting access to education and communities in need with financial commitment and volunteerism reflect valued priorities put in action.”
“With a College history spanning nearly 70 years, engaged alumnus Joe Dierker’s commitment, his many professional achievements and community contributions, clearly personify the traits of Service, Care, Integrity and Faith – intended for this Medal honor,” Still said.