- William Thorn, the chair of Marquette's Journalism department, was knighted by the Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon.
- Thorn was one of 60 distinguished Catholics invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
- Becoming a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre is both a call to personal spiritual growth and a call to support the Catholic community in the Holy Land of Jerusalem.
Students may know him as "Dr. Thorn," but now the Vatican has knighted the chair of Marquette's journalism department, officially recognizing him as "Sir William Thorn."
This honor wasn't a hereditary privilege, nor was it the result of slaying a dragon or saving a damsel in distress.
Thorn received the distinction in recognition of his work as a communications specialist for the Church over the course of 30 years. He was formally invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on Sunday under the mandate of Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Thorn was one of 60 distinguished Catholics to be officially recognized as either knights or ladies during an induction ceremony at the Basilica of St. Josaphat on Milwaukee's South side.
Thorn has served on the Vatican Committee on Communication Document, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Communications and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Communications Committee.
Thorn has also played a major role in the International Catholic Union of the Press, according to his wife Vicky, who was one of 29 women invested as ladies of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday. Married couples are often brought into the Order together.
"He understands that the Catholic Church is universal," Vicky said of her husband. "So he is always looking to participate in the international communication of Catholic values."
Of the Equestrian Order's 23,000 international members, over 400 local knights and ladies were present for Sunday's Ceremony of Investiture.
According to the Vatican's Web site, the origins of the order date back to the First Crusade, when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem.
Becoming a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre used to require abandoning one's material wealth, home, country and family to profess Christ's Faith by fighting for and defending the Catholic Church in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, Dolan said.
"Today, becoming a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre means witnessing the Kingdom of Christ, and spreading the teachings of the Church, as well as working for charity with the same profound spirit and love," Dolan said.
Instead of donning a shiny coat of armor, Thorn and the other newly invested knights wore white vestments with embroidery of the red Jerusalem cross over their hearts. Underneath, the knights wore tuxedos, showing how far the order has come in nearly 1,000 years.
Thorn said he realizes that knighthood today is more of an honorary title given by the Vatican than a mandate for militaristic action in defense of the Catholic Church.
"It's a call to personal and spiritual growth, as well as a call to support the Catholic community in Jerusalem, especially in the field of education," Thorn said.
Dolan's homily also reflected the 21st century role of a knight.
"We are here to respond to the call of universal holiness," Dolan said. "Members of the Equestrian Order are required to help the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, while at the same time, growing closer to God."
After joining the Order, Thorn said it becomes expected of the knights to support the education of Christians in the Holy Land by make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem—a duty he said he looks forward to fulfilling.