Category: Ecumenical Institute News

EI Graduation Dinner

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“Delightful” is how one long-time faculty member described the celebration dinner for Ecumenical Institute graduates. The beaming smiles signified the joyful conviviality shared Saturday evening by graduates and their families, CONNECT students, faculty, staff, and EI board members. Notable moments included presentation of three awards. Brenda Logue received The Maryland Bible Society Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biblical Studies. Dawn Sirface received The Robert F. Leavitt Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theological Studies. Sandra Michocki received The Deans’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in The Study & Practice of Ministry.

Dr. George Toole, retiring after more than 27 years of teaching in the EI, was honored for his wonderful teaching gifts. A number of students shared what a significant impact the Ecumenical Institute has had on them, aptly summarized by one student with the simple claim, “I am a different person.”


St. Mary’s 30th Annual Holocaust Remembrance Service

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St. Mary’s 30th annual Holocaust Remembrance service was unique in many ways. The service was planned and led by Rabbi Nina Cardin and Dr. Brent Laytham, along with students from their fall “Food and Faith” course, the Ecumenical Institute’s first Richman-Linehan Jewish-Christian Studies course. The service was structured around six meditations on ingredients in the recipe for Pächter Cake, a recipe that is part of a cookbook created by women imprisoned in the Terezin concentration camp. The service concluded with all sharing in freshly baked Pächter cake. Special music was provided by violinist Sally Grobani, and by students of Erika Pardes Schon, conductor of Baltimore’s chapter of the HaZamir International Jewish High School Choir.

For more images, view the photo gallery below.

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EI Alumni Day

The EI’s 1st Annual Alumni Day, which is being sponsored by the EI Alumni Council, will be Saturday, June 6, 2015, 8:30 am – 1 pm.  Beginning with a prayer service and ending with lunch, the event will include presentations from Rev. Dr. Brent Laytham and Dr. Michael Gorman, the current and former EI Deans. The schedule will afford plenty of time to reconnect with old friends and make new.  Register now at


EI “Fridays with the Faculty” Returns


Dr. Tracy Radosevic, acclaimed biblical storyteller and professor of religious education, will be the presenter for the March 20 “Fridays with the Faculty,” sponsored by the Ecumenical Institute of Theology. The topic, “Trailing Jesus: a Journey of Incarnation through Biblical Stories, Backpacks & Blisters,” will be the focus for an evening of biblical storytelling and conversation based on Dr. Radosevic’s recent Holy Land travels. A discussion with Dr. Brent Laytham and Dr. Michael Gorman will follow, as the three explore the impact to faith, theology, and spirituality that a pilgrimage to the Holy Land can make. Free and open to the public in Laubacher Hall at 7 pm.  Pre-registration is appreciated at or 410.864.4203. See Flier. AND there’s still time to register for Dr. Radosevic’s course, Biblical Storytelling I. Selected dates in April 2015.  More information. Or contact the office at, 410.864.4203.


Dr. Gorman Receives Luce Fellowship for 2015-16 Sabbatical

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Dr. Michael J. Gorman, who holds the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary’s, has been appointed a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology for 2015-16. He will use this appointment to take a full-year sabbatical.

The Luce Fellows program focuses on theological excellence and creativity. It is the fruit of a partnership between The Henry Luce Foundation and the Association of Theological Schools. Past Luce Fellows include Mary Boys, Walter Brueggemann, Francis Fiorenza, Stanley Hauerwas, Richard Hays, Luke Johnson, and Sandra Schneiders.

“The reception of the Luce Fellowship is a wonderful tribute to Dr. Gorman and an honor for St. Mary’s Seminary & University,” noted Father Thomas Hurst, St. Mary’s President-Rector. “As the holder of the Raymond E. Brown Chair, Dr. Gorman is well known for his excellent teaching and insightful scholarship, which are greatly appreciated by the St. Mary’s community as well as the larger theological world.”

Dr. Gorman’s Luce Fellowship research project is entitled “Missional Theosis in the New Testament.” A continuation of his forthcoming book on mission in Paul (Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission [Eerdmans]; book launch at St. Mary’s on May 27), this project will explore the notion of mission as participation in the life of God in New Testament writings other than the letters of Paul.

E.I. Dean Dr. Brent Laytham said “I am thrilled for Dr. Gorman, for St. Mary’s (and the Ecumenical Institute in particular), and for the church. His scholarship has always empowered his excellent teaching, and his year as a Luce Fellow will further enrich that, enlivening our classrooms while enlightening biblical studies’ understanding of the centrality of mission in the New Testament. Nothing could be better for us, or for Christ’s church.”

Dr. Gorman may be reached at


Festival of Preaching


The Ecumenical Institute will host a Festival of Preaching April 17-18 on the St. Mary’s campus. The theme is “Preaching for Transformation in the 21st Century.” The goal is to help equip preachers to effectively address the pastoral and prophetic issues facing the contemporary church and society. Plenary preachers will be Dr. Frank M. Reid III, Bethel AME Church, Baltimore; Dr. Ann F. Lightner-Fuller, Mt. Calvary AME Church, Towson; and Bishop Dwayne C.  Debnam, Morning Star Baptist Church, Catonsville. EI alumni and faculty will lead a variety of panel discussions and workshops during the two-day event. See Festival of Preaching flier. Beginning on Tuesday, February 10, more details and online registration at:

In conjunction with the Festival of Preaching, the spring-minimester course, “Preaching in the Black Church Tradition,” will be offered. It will be taught by EI professor and pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church, Dr. C. Anthony Hunt. Course tuition for three graduate credits includes the cost of attending the Festival. Visit for information on applications and enrollment, or call 410/864-4200.


Ecumenical Prayer Service Well Attended

The January 20 Service of Prayer for Christian Unity was attended by a diverse group—seminarians from the School of Theology and Ecumenical Institute students, along with faculty members from both divisions. Pastors from several Roland Park churches vested and joined in the processional. With President-Rector, Rev. Thomas Hurst, P.S.S., presiding, seminarians and students read Scripture and offered prayer. The sermon, “A bucket, a mountain, a table, and … the savior of the world” (John 4:1-42), was preached by Rev. Dr. Brent Laytham, Dean of the Ecumenical Institute, who brought fresh insight to the surprising encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The St. Mary’s Schola, forming a small circle in the center of the Chapel, offered the Russian Orthodox chant of St. Symeon’s Prayer. With assistance from Dean Laytham, Rev. Daniel Grigassy, OFM, Associate Professor of Liturgical Theology, planned the service, which beautifully reflected the call that is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.


EI Recognizes Coleman of Divine Hearts

Pamela Coleman of Divine Hearts, Inc., with Wanda Duckett

The Ecumenical Institute recently gave its “Making a Difference Award” to Pamela Coleman, the founder and President of Divine Hearts, Inc., The Rev. Dr. Wanda Duckett, chair of Advancement, presented Coleman with the award and a gift basket. Divine Hearts is a grassroots organization meant to uplift, inspire, and encourage women and children to achieve greatness. Coleman believes that everyone deserves a chance to obtain the best in life. Divine Hearts sponsors Back to School Drives, self esteem workshops, Thanksgiving and Christmas Events, Stepping Stones to Employment/Financial Rejuvenation Seminars, and opportunities to volunteer at local shelters.

The Ecumenical Institute gives “Making a Difference Awards” to twelve individuals and organizations in the Baltimore area who serve the most needy among us.


EI Honors Hartnett of Food for Thought

Sister Mary Ann Hartnett, SSND of Food for Thought, Inc., with students

The Ecumenical Institute recently gave a “Making a Difference Award” to Sister Mary Ann Hartnett, SSND, director of Food For Thought, Inc., which provides after-school programs and tutoring to inner city children. Now in its 24th year, the program is located at Archbishop Borders School in Baltimore, and its participants are largely Latino. Fr. Bob Leavitt says that Sr. Mary Ann, a graduate of the Ecumenical Institute, is “tireless in her service to the poor.”

The “Making a Difference Awards” are given to twelve individuals and organizations in the Baltimore area who serve the most needy among us. 



EI Awards Viva House for Making a Difference

Brendan Walsh of Viva House

The Ecumenical Institute is giving “Making a Difference Awards” to twelve individuals and organizations in the Baltimore area who serve the most needy among us. Nominated by faithful supporters of the Ecumenical Institute, recipients are selected by the Advancement Committee, which delivers a gift basket along with the award.

Meet recipient Brendan Walsh, director of Baltimore’s Viva House, a Catholic Worker House established in the late 1960s and located on Mount Street in the middle of West Baltimore’s drug ghetto. He and his wife Willa Bickham live there and serve lunch twice a week to as many as 210 homeless men and women. Walsh is said to be full of Christ’s compassion for the weak as well as moral outrage against what he perceives as a heartless culture.