SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame honored actor and activist Martin Sheen Sunday with its Laetare Medal for his humanitarian work.
The 67-year-old Sheen received the award during the school's commencement. The award is Notre Dame's top honor and is given annually to a Catholic "whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church, and enriched the heritage of humanity."
"While acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive," Sheen told the crowd during commencement Sunday at Notre Dame.
Sheen is best known for portraying fictional President Josiah Bartlet, a Notre Dame alumnus, on NBC's "The West Wing."
Provost Thomas Burish also presented Sheen with a Notre Dame jacket like one he wore in the final episode of "The West Wing."
Sheen describes himself as a Catholic peace activist. He has been arrested for taking part in nonviolent demonstrations against various U.S. military policies, and has donated money and time to such causes as the alleviation of poverty and homelessness, human rights for migrant workers and environmental protection.