Saint Mark’s College to Confer 2016 Honorary Doctorate to Retired Neurosurgeon, Humanitarian Dr. Felix Durity

Vancouver, BC – May 2, 2016. Saint Mark’s College at UBC is pleased to announce that Dr. Felix Durity – retired neurosurgeon, former Head of Neurosurgery and current Professor Emeritus in UBC’s Department of Surgery, and a committed humanitarian – will be awarded the institution’s highest honour, the Doctor of Sacred Letters (honoris causa).

The degree will be conferred by the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver and Chancellor of Saint Mark’s College, at the College’s upcoming Convocation, to be held at Saint Mark’s College Chapel on May 7, 2016, at 1:30 pm.

This honour recognizes Dr. Durity’s long-time commitment to humanitarian endeavours, including his enormous contributions to neurosurgery, particularly in developing countries, and his wide-ranging efforts towards combating social injustices across the world.

The first resident to be trained in neurosurgery at UBC, Dr. Durity has dedicated his life to providing the best possible neurosurgical care for the people of British Columbia and beyond. He has spent his career educating the next generation of clinicians and researchers in BC and Canada, and collaborating with local partners to develop programs for neurological care in West Africa. For these activities, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2005.

Dr. Durity is a co-founder of the Neurosciences Centre of Excellence at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana, and became a founding director of the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation, Canada, which helps raise funds for specialized medical equipment. Through Dr. Durity’s and colleagues’ collaborative efforts, more than $1M of equipment has been re-serviced from local Vancouver hospitals and deployed in West Africa. Since his retirement, he has travelled often to Ghana to mentor its neurosurgeons, especially helping them establish trans-sphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumours. He was instrumental in developing an ongoing Neurosurgical Training Program in Ghana, now successfully graduating locally trained neurosurgeons to deliver critical brain and spinal cord care.

A strong supporter of the mission of the Catholic Colleges at UBC, Dr. Durity is a long-time, active community member of St. Mark’s Parish at UBC. He is an energizer of St. Mark’s Social Justice ministry and regional Vice-Chair of the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s chapter of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). (CCOPD is the international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, and the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis.)

Through his work with the CCODP, Dr. Durity collaborates to raise funds for various projects such as the annual Share Lent campaign, which works with local partners to support sustainable community development programs in the Global South and provides emergency relief in response to catastrophes around the world, such as the earthquake in Haiti, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and, more recently, the refugee and migrant crisis in the Middle East.

“Dr. Durity is very humble and does not seek to draw attention to his humanitarian works. He reluctantly accepted our offer of an Honorary Degree to draw attention to social justice issues, and we are honoured that he has accepted,” said Saint Mark’s College Principal, Dr. Peter Meehan. “His story is one of applying the social teaching of the Catholic Church in very real, and practical ways. He very much exemplifies the values and mission of Saint Mark’s College, and serves as an inspiration to all who seek to put their faith into action and help build a better world, whether through their professional or volunteer efforts.”

Dr. Durity is a driving force in the refugee sponsorship program at St. Mark’s Parish, which is involved in the process of welcoming a Syrian refugee family to our country and city. He coordinates several parish-driven charitable efforts, including an annual Christmas food and clothing drive. Adding his efforts to the energies of other parishioners at St. Marks, Dr. Durity is an enthusiastic supporter of school projects run by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Africa, which run elementary schools in Zimbabwe. He has championed and supported the work of parishioners who labour with local knitting clubs in a project that has distributed over 500 knitted toques for premature babies in developing countries such as Cambodia, Uganda, and Vietnam, to help these babies preserve essential body heat and increase their survival rates by preventing crippling hypothermia.

Dr. Durity personally supports a secondary school, Alexandra High School, in an impoverished area of Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal Province, South Africa, and sponsors six girls and one boy through World Vision and Chalice, the Catholic International Children Aid Society.

“Dr. Durity, known to the parish as ‘Felix’, is an indomitable force in the life of our worshipping community,” commented Fr. Robert Allore, SJ, Pastor of St. Mark’s Parish. “With Felix present, there is no job too large or too small for his energy, no celebration of community life that can be ignored, and no cry from the poor, from our sisters and brothers, or from the earth, which escapes his notice, his energy, and his prodding for our response. The special care he shows for those in distress and for the students who come to the parish demonstrates that Felix remains always the physician, the teacher, the mentor, and the evangelist in our mission to share the Gospel with the community here on the UBC campus.”

The College offers programs that are grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, including a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Culture for aspiring Catholic teachers; Master’s degrees in Religious Education, Theological Studies, Pastoral Studies and Catholic Leadership; and engaging public lectures and professional development opportunities addressing faith leading to understanding.

Contact: Elizabeth Morse, Communications, Saint Mark’s College

604.649-1434 | emorse@corpuschristi.ca