Fall courses will run from Thursday, September 1, 2022 through Monday, December 12, 2022. Students will have the options to register for in-person or online attendance for all fall courses.
St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute (EI) will award one full-tuition need-based scholarship to a selected United Methodist applicant who lives, works, or worships in Baltimore City to begin studies in fall 2022. The scholarship covers 100% of tuition for the 36 credits taken at the Ecumenical Institute as part of the MDiv partnership program with Lancaster Theological Seminary. Applicants not selected for the EI MDiv Scholarship will automatically be considered for the Ecumenical Institute’s Patterson Fellows program (which provides significant partial tuition scholarships).
Download the details and MDiv Scholarship Application form here or contact Galen Zook firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
St. Mary’s President Rector, Fr. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., presents his next reflection for the St. Mary’s community, Letters from the Park. In it, Fr. Brown takes his inspiration from a quote from Dante’s The Divine Comedy, saying:
It seemed appropriate to me to reflect for this second of the revived Letters from the Park on this passage, an image of one emerging from catastrophe, looking back on perils escaped, as he moves forward toward new vistas, some dark and fearsome, others offering hope, eventually leading to a final sublime state.
Letters from the Park
Baltimore: Roland Park Neighborhood
|E come quei che con lena affinata
Uscito fuor del pelago alla riva
Si volge a l’aqua perigliosa e guataCosì l’animo mio che ancor’fugiva
Si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo
Che non lascio già mai persona viva
|And as one shipwrecked, with panting breath
Emerges from open sea onto the shore,
Turns to gape at the perilous waterSo my soul, still fleeing in terror,
Turns to gaze at the woodland passage
Which leaves no person alive who lingers there.
Dante Aleghieri, La Divina Commedia
Dear St. Mary’s Community,
The Divine Comedy is the story of a soul. Written in the fourteenth century, it touches on themes strangely contemporary. “Contemporary” because they are universal: the ultimate consequences of human actions; how to live in the face of the unpredictability and stresses of human existence; what is our relationship with God, and what should our relationships with one another be like; what constitutes good governance and bad governance in human affairs; what, ultimately, is life all about.
Civilization seemed at a high point when Dante wrote, but it was also plagued by corruption, violence, selfishness, and decadence in its highest circles. The themes of the Comedy are not exclusively “spiritual” but related as well to the real world in which its characters had lived.
Dante and his guide, the Roman poet Virgil, travel together through the Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (purgatory) and eventually to Paradiso (heaven), the three realms beyond life in this world. They meet only people who had lived in this world who have now gone on to eternal rewards and punishments, some for purgation before, but with the assurance of, entering heaven. Dante’s voyage begins on Holy Thursday and ends on Wednesday of Easter week. As Easter Season 2022 comes to an end and we return to Ordinary Time the day after Pentecost, things are feeling more normal, as we yearn for more “normal,” even as we are reminded that we have not moved completely beyond the perils of our current times. It seemed appropriate to me to reflect for this second of the revived Letters from the Park on this passage, an image of one emerging from catastrophe, looking back on perils escaped, as he moves forward toward new vistas, some dark and fearsome, others offering hope, eventually leading to a final sublime state.
Dante’s image is an appropriate point of reflection, I believe, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2022. Descending upon us so swiftly, it was here before we really knew what was happening; not unlike a shipwreck, beginning with small but ominous signs that something was amiss, then suddenly affecting thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people, many of whom lost their lives. We mourn those who have passed and pray for their loved ones. We seem to have made it through the worst now, but it has not completely gone away. We are emerging like Dante’s character still looking back at perilous waters as we move more and more toward safety.
Risks, dangerous risks, remain. But risks there have always been, are, and will always be in this life. In the end, however, our lives are determined not by the dangers but by the courage and determination with which we face them. Not fate but hope is our lodestar. That is at the heart of Dante’s message: the serious risks and dangers of life do not have the final word—not for those who have faith, those who trust in the Spirit of God who guides us. Faith and salvation await us, lived in hope even during darkest days, not just spiritually but in the real circumstances of our lives—like a pandemic. And were it only a pandemic! So many other fearsome realities continue to beset us: a war of aggression, thought impossible in our day and time; senseless shootings; continued polarization and political rancor.
The Divine Comedy was written fifty years before the Black Plague wiped out one-third to one-half the population of Europe, a major event that challenged human beings to the extreme. But we endured, emerged from it, regained hope, faith and determination, just as we are doing in the face of the challenges we are having to face. The pandemic preoccupied us for over two years. We have an opportunity to regain a larger perspective now—not only that there are other terrible challenges in front of us, like war abroad and random violence at home, but also because there is much that is hopeful in front of us, if we only recover our vision for the hopefulness that having a future is. And we do have a future, one that can be better than the past, even if we must continue to endure negative challenges as we pursue positive progress. What will make all the difference, I believe, is that we come to realize and embrace the fact that history and the future are not just things that happen, they are things that people make happen. It is through the quality of how we live our lives and embrace values and initiatives that will make our world and the future better than past events that have darkened our lives that will make the difference, if we commit ourselves to living those values and carrying those initiatives out.
Another favorite author whose writings are filled with great wisdom, who has offered much hope and given much strength to generations of Christian believers is St. Augustine of Hippo. Something he said gave me perspective for what I wanted to say in this letter, which is that however challenging these past years have been, and the present seems to be, through faith we will experience a resilience that we otherwise might not have dreamed we had; an ability to heal from the wounds the past few years have inflicted on us and shape our present and our future in ways that will allow us to move beyond the challenges toward something stable, satisfying and hopeful; something ultimately sublime. As Augustine says:
“Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: such as we are, such are the times.”
St. Augustine, Sermon 80:8
St. Mary’s President Rector, Fr. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., is happy to re-introduce his reflections to the St. Mary’s community, Letters from the Park. As Fr. Brown says in his first letter:
When St. Mary’s went all online in March 2020 I started writing Letters from the Park to keep in touch with seminarians and faculty because of our physical separation and new virtual reality. When a “third wave” began I thought of resuming the Letters, not just to keep in touch, but as a way of reflecting on the impact of the pandemic on our lives; a longer-term effort to reflect on some more important things we might want to think about in the light of how our lives have changed. I enjoy writing and this is an opportunity to fulfill an aspect of ministry not always available to me as a seminary rector. Pastors are teachers, preachers and evangelizers who cultivate holiness. These letters are an opportunity to better fulfill my role as a pastor.
Letters from the Park
Baltimore: Roland Park Neighborhood
Dear St. Mary’s Community,
Who would have thought two years ago we would still be contending with a worldwide pandemic? Few, other than scientists, had ever heard of “novel coronaviruses,” much less COVID-19. It swept over the world nevertheless with astounding speed and devastation. We are now in a “third wave” (Omicron). How long will it last? Will there be more waves, more variants? No one can say for sure. One thing is certain, however: we’re all in a state of pandemic fatigue.
There have been many pandemics in history, at least five more devastating than COVID. A plague killed five million in the third century, in the sixth thirty to fifty million. The Black Plague caused over two hundred million deaths, more than one-third the population of Europe in the fourteenth century. Smallpox fifty-six million in the sixteenth, the Spanish Flu, a hundred years ago, forty to fifty million. AIDS twenty-five to thirty million to date, and COVID-19 five and a half million and counting. Though infrequent, pandemics have not been unusual. When they do occur, they cause people to ask profound questions about life and the human condition. They reveal just how fragile our existence really is; they bring us face-to-face with life’s big questions: What does it mean to be a human being, to be part of the human race? What is the meaning of suffering, evil and death, which human ingenuity and progress have not eliminated? What are our achievements really all about, acquired at so great a price? How can we contribute more to the advancement of society? What happens after our lives on earth end? These are questions the Church’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) posed nearly 60 years ago.
Pandemics and other natural disasters can make us wonder if everything is coming to its inevitable end. Is it possible we may be living in apocalyptic times? The Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner, once observed that a modern crisis is the extent to which people try to avoid asking the big questions by keeping busy, always distracted by other things. Yet, those questions are always present in the depths of our consciousness, however much we ignore them. A willingness to ask them, however, can lead to exploring the meaning of life in new ways. That’s what Christianity did when it appeared on the scene over two thousand years ago, a time when the world as then known seemed to be falling apart. Christian faith offered a new and more hopeful way of understanding life. In contemplating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, those who grasped its message came to realize and believe that the Kingdom of God had arrived and was breaking into human experience and human history. God’s grace was present, and deeply felt; it sustained people through devastating events and great human suffering: truly Good News offering hope and the prospect of new beginnings, despite trials, tribulation, and challenging odds.
It doesn’t take a pandemic or other natural disaster to raise questions about the meaning of our lives, a perennial question. Searing personal tragedies and large-scale devastation, however, bring existential questions to the fore; they need to be asked and answered. It takes courage to ask them and trust, above all, to seek answers.
Is the pandemic a sign of the end? Or does it perhaps signal that one world is ending and another being born? What if there are going to be another thousand, two thousand, or many thousands of years ahead for humanity? That is a more likely future. How should we think about what that means? Shouldn’t we ask ourselves, “What kind of world, then, would I like to leave for those who come after us? What should we be doing now to bring a new and better world into being?”
Christian faith has everything to do with these questions. Do we not pray for the world “as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever”? Pandemics and natural disasters are a reality that will no doubt continue to occur from time to time. Experience confirms they don’t mean everything will come to an end, just some things—even as others are beginning. Should we not be preparing for and creating that better world that is to come which will last long into the future?
Roman conquest ended the world of Ancient Israel just forty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Roman world was facing its demise as St. Augustine lay dying in Hippo in the 420’s. Czarist Russia ended in 1917, its successor in 1989. In each case, the world did not end, just those particular worlds—as new ones emerged. I have always been impressed by how St. Augustine and his patron St. Ambrose addressed the decline of the Roman world they were so much a part of. It has been said St. Ambrose prepared the world of the Church for the darkness ahead as the larger culture crumbled. St. Augustine wrote a book—The City of God—which became a blueprint for the world to come: Medieval Christendom. They focused on “the world to come”, planned, and prepared for that world by nurturing a new one, and with it, a new kind of culture.
I would like to suggest we may be at a similar turning point—not the end of the world, but the end of one world as another comes into being, one that we are going to have a lot to do with; one that will be very much influenced and fashioned by how we imagine it, and what we do to bring it into being. I would like to explore in the next few letters not just how the pandemic has impacted us, but also what our vision of the new world that is coming to be might look like, informed by the insights of our faith and grounded in its long tradition. I invite you to reflect on this with me, as we search for a common vision, rooted in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, and nurtured by the wisdom of our religious tradition. Shall we reflect together and see where it leads?
Saturday classes began this past Saturday May 21, and Monday/Thursday classes begin on Thursday, May 26. We are so excited to finally welcome students and faculty back into the building, as students are attending both in person and online.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly Presents Charter
At evening vespers on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, St. Mary’s welcomed Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight, Patrick Kelly, and Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and also the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights, at a special charter ceremony inaugurating the Blessed Michael McGivney Council of the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s. The development of the Council is notable as it is established at the very seminary from which Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, graduated in 1877.
The ceremony took place in St. Mary’s Chapel where a portrait of Fr. McGivney and a relic were placed in honor with flanking candles. Archbishop Lori presided at the Evening Prayer and preached the homily. In addition to Supreme Knight Kelly, Knights of Columbus State attended along with Very Reverend Daniel Moore, Acting Provincial of the Society of Saint Sulpice, United States Province.
The service was followed by a celebratory dinner and additional addresses, including a speech by the first Grand Knight of the new Council, Mr. Michael Schultz, Second-Year Seminarian from the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Knights of Columbus video summary of the event
Charter presentation during Evening Vespers.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly speaks to the congregation.
(In the center) Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, (to the immediate left) Mr. Patrick E. Kelly, Supreme Knight, (next left) Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University. (To the right of Archbishop Lori) Mr. Michael L. Schultz, 2nd Year Seminarian of the Archdiocese of Louisivlle. (Remainder) The faculty and student members of the new Council.
Acting Provincial of the United States Province of the Society of Saint Sulpice, Very Rev. Daniel Moore, P.S.S., speaks at the dinner with fond memories of his membership in the Knights.
Friday, May 20, 2022 • 7:30 PM EDT
St. Mary’s Chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary & University
Free and open to the public, but registration is requested.
Register online at Eventbrite.
Franz Schubert: Sonata in E minor D. 566 (unfinished)
César Franck: Prélude, Aria et Final (1887)
Erwin Schulhoff: Suite No. 3 for the Left Hand (1927)
Maurice Ravel: La Valse (composer’s version for solo piano) (1919)
Vladimir Stoupel returns to St. Mary’s to present a timely recital. His program features several pieces composed in reflection on World War I. This look back into history helps us to cope with the crisis-ridden present and to commemorate the lives lost in the war. We need distance to be able to process all this. Music is especially necessary in times of crisis! It offers us a protected space; it gives us the opportunity to reflect. War destroys, music builds up.
Vladimir Stoupel is an individualist with an extraordinarily rich tonal and emotional palette. The Washington Post praised his “protean range of expression” and Der Tagesspiegel Berlin described his performance as “enthralling and atmospherically dense.” His extraordinary technical command allows him to explore the outermost limits of expression, mesmerizing audiences with his musical intensity.
|Guests are invited to make a free will offering to defray the expense of Mr. Stoupel’s performance and to make it possible for St. Mary’s to host more such events.
Suggested Donation: $25.00
(If you wish to make a donation online, use the following link:)
St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute presents concert organist and composer David Hurd in a concert that is free and open to the public.
Thursday, May 5th, 2022 at 7:30 PM EDT in the Chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary and University.
Free and open to the public, but registration is requested at:
“Nothing was commonplace. Hurd paints his musical ideas with bold colorful strokes that emit an almost visceral electricity. Immediately striking was his use of dynamics, timbre, and melodic direction to create a shifting contour that owed as mighty forces of nature. Whatever the emotional effect produced, Hurd seemed to live within it fully….wildly virtuosic.” – (The Blade, Toledo, Ohio)
David Hurd is widely recognized as one of the foremost church musicians and concert organists in the United States, with a long list of honors and achievements, and immeasurable expertise in organ performance, improvisation, and composition. For 39 years David Hurd was on the faculty of The General Theological Seminary in New York City, as Director of Chapel Music, Organist, and Professor of Church Music. He is the composer of dozens of hymns, choral works, settings of the liturgy, and organ works published by a number of major houses. His music appears in hymnals and choir libraries in churches of nearly all religious denominations. In 2010 he became the fifteenth recipient of the American Guild of Organists’ Distinguished Composer award. Dr. Hurd serves as Organist/Choirmaster of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City.