Dean Brent Laytham is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rebecca Hancock as Director of MDiv Partnerships for St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. Dr. Hancock will add this responsibility to her current portfolio as Coordinator of Communications, Operations, and Student Services. Students in the Ecumenical Institute have long known Dr. Hancock as an engaging professor of Old Testament. After she took on student services, students have also found her to be a wise and compassionate advisor. She will bring all of her academic experience and relational gifts to bear on the work of advising all MDiv bound students, and administering partner relationships. “I’ve experienced firsthand how transformative a strong MDiv program can be,” Dr. Hancock wrote, “and welcome the opportunity to support students seeking an accessible path to an MDiv.”
New seminarians pose for photo on the steps of the Historic Seminary Chapel in Baltimore (the original site of America’s first Catholic seminary).
Fr. Phillip Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector, the Faculty and St. Mary’s Seminary & University Seminarians welcomed 20 men to formation at America’s first Roman Catholic Seminary on August 21st. This year’s incoming class includes men from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the dioceses of Albany, Erie, Harrisburg, Paterson, Scranton, Wilmington, Worcester, Zhaoxian, China as well as two priests from the dioceses of Manfe and Kumbo, Cameroon, who are studying for their S.T.L. degrees. The Introduction to Seminary Life program concluded with a retreat for the entire community and Mass of the Holy Spirit, which was celebrated by Most Rev. William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore. Classes begin on August 30th.
St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the 2018-2019 academic year. The EI will begin its jubilee with an academic convocation on Wednesday, September 12, at 7 pm in our chapel. The convocation speaker is Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Taylor Branch is especially well-positioned to remind us of the situation in 1968 when Cardinal Shehan and Episcopal Bishop Harry Lee Doll announced a new experiment in ecumenical theological education in founding the EI. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the EI are invited to join us as together we commemorate a bold beginning, celebrate a faithful history, and anticipate an engaging future.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rebecca Hancock at email@example.com or 410.864.4202.
Office of the President-Rector
Statement from Father Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S.
August 21, 2018
Recent revelations about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report convince me that I should address these matters as President-Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University. Pope Francis released a very powerful letter today on this critical matter which I urge you to read.
Some suggest that the Church is being treated unfairly, perhaps even persecuted. The Catholic Church is not the victim here anymore than Penn State or Michigan State University have been victims through revelation of criminal misconduct by their faculty or staff members. The thousands of children and vulnerable young people who have been sexually abused and harassed by priests and members of the Catholic hierarchy are the victims. And the People of God, who have not deserved this, are victims also.
This is a very sad time for the Catholic Church. But it is not a time to try to deflect responsibility. It is time to acknowledge responsibility, do penance and most importantly to reform: to reform not only words spoken, but reform the culture that made these horrible events possible.
St. Mary’s is committed to learning from what came before, and enacting policies and practices to assure no blind eye will ever be turned to wrongful behavior; that it will be confronted and addressed as soon as discovered, and those responsible dismissed from St. Mary’s. We are also committed to forming priests who will support a culture where the vulnerable are protected fully by the Church, where not just abusers but anyone who covers for them are held accountable.
Here is my attitude: I have no tolerance for sexual abuse or sexual harassment, or any other kind of abuse or harassment on the part of anyone I supervise, work with or am responsible for. I am committed to investigating any and every allegation thoroughly and fairly. Any suggestion of child abuse is reported to civil authorities. As a Christian I believe in forgiveness, but forgiveness does not dispense with the need for accountability. I cannot change what happened in the past, but I have been and am committed to preventing improper behavior as long as I am in charge of St. Mary’s, and to make amends for past wrongs when that can be done. I cannot share confidential information, but if I could I believe you would be convinced that I mean what I say. I am also responsible to insure that every faculty member at St. Mary’s today understands and enforces the same policy.
My predecessors started strengthening admissions standards, human formation resources and faculty screening over 30 years ago, something that continues on an ongoing basis. We want to be an important part of the solution, not to perpetuate the problem. We are profoundly aware that words and policies are not enough: actions must prove that our words are sincere. Those who know St. Mary’s today know of results that reveal themselves in outstanding seminarians and priests. I ask for your prayers and support so St. Mary’s can continue to provide the People of God with the kind of priests you deserve.
Please see Archbishop Lori’s statement on recent revelations to show our solidarity and commitment to confront and resolve these serious problems, in particular in the way we strengthen and grow St. Mary’s program of priestly formation. For the harm that has been done, I want to express my sorrow and beg forgiveness on behalf of the Church. I also want to pledge to you our undying efforts to do all we can to reform so that such horrors never happen again.
Sincerely yours, praying for the assistance of Jesus and Mary,
Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S.
Dr. Arthur Sutherland was awarded funding by the University of Virginia’s Project on Lived Theology for an initiative studying the theological framework of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The initiative includes a task force of 10 scholars and practitioners who will meet in Birmingham in June for a three-day research retreat at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. After the June meeting, the task force will publish a collection of essays and host a public forum on the theological ideas and questions raised by King in 1963 that are still relevant today.
The mission of the Project on Lived Theology is to clarify the interconnection of theology and lived experience and promote academic resources in pursuit of social justice and human flourishing. The Project offers a variety of familiar and unconventional spaces where theologians, scholars, students, practitioners, and non-academics can demonstrate the importance of theological ideas in the public conversation about civic responsibility and social progress. The project was established in 2000 with a grant from the Lilly Endowment.
Find out more about the project HERE.
“Accept our honor” and “pay your learning forward” in ministry, Dr. James Buckley told St. Mary’s Seminary & University graduates on Thursday evening, May 17. These included 16 From the School of Theology, and 21 from the Ecumenical Institute, as well as Bishop Dennis Madden, who was awarded the Doctor of Divinity honoris causa for his “life-long commitment to merciful compassion, peace and reconciliation, to enriching education, and to patient ecumenism.”
This year’s Holocaust Remembrance Service was planned by students and faculty in the Richman-Linehan Course in Jewish Studies, which this year focused on Hospitality. The April 25th Service highlighted the hospitality shown to children who escaped the Nazis through the Kindertransport in the months leading up to World War II. Six stories of children were read, one for each of the candles on the Holocaust Menorah. Attendees were given a card with the name and picture of a child, and invited to participate by standing as the name and story of the child was read.
St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute celebrates the appointment of Dr. Drew Strait as Assistant Professor of New Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. The AMBS announcement describes what every one of his EI students already knows: Dr. Strait is a masterful teacher, an excellent scholar, and a passionate follower of Jesus.
Arriving in 2013 as a doctoral candidate still completing his dissertation, Strait taught Greek, Orientation to Biblical Studies, and New Testament (13 classes in all), becoming Professor of New Testament (part-time) and receiving the Dunning Distinguished Lecturer award. Students have regularly penned accolades on their course evaluations such as brilliant, wonderful, excellent, fantastic, and exceptional. He will be sorely missed at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute, but his legacy will remain: students, colleagues, and alums whose understanding and love of Scripture grew deeper and stronger through Dr. Strait’s teaching.
Most Rev. Robert Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse NY, ordained Nathan Brooks, Diocese of Syracuse, to the Order of Deacon at St. Mary’s Seminary on Saturday, April 21st. Rev. Mr. Nathan Brooks was joined in celebration by Fr. Brown, St. Mary’s faculty members, and many priests of his home diocese of Syracuse as well as the community of St. Mary’s Seminary. Over 100 family and friends traveled to Baltimore for the Liturgy and Celebratory Reception. Rev. Chris Celentano (SM, Class of 2008), who is Rev. Mr. Brook’s pastor from Syracuse, celebrated the Mass of Thanksgiving for the community on Sunday morning, and Rev. Mr. Brooks preached.
For photos of the event, please click on the link to the gallery below.
On April 12, 2018, the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, and St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute co-hosted Dr. Freeman Hrabowski for the 2018 Carroll lecture. This year’s lecture focused on where we are 50 years after Dr. King’s assassination. Dr. Hrabowski reflected on his participation in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, and the impact of his childhood experiences on his philosophy of education. The audience was challenged by Dr. Hrabowski’s provocative question “What is our society doing for the least of us?” He also reminded us to hope, as Dr. King did, that we can learn to trust one another. In an era where language is often divisive, Dr. Hrabowski’s words stand as a prophetic call to embrace speech that unites by remembering our common humanity and our vocation to the office of citizen.