Category: St. Mary’s News

Statement on Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

St. Mary’s Seminary & University
Statement on
Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting
October 30, 2018

 

The St. Mary’s Seminary & University Community grieves the loss of life and injuries inflicted at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last Saturday. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims. We weep with you and we share with you, as we are able, the pain of this loss and outrage over the kind of malicious violence this act represents. We decry every form of antisemitism and the kinds of violence, unkindness, and cruelty it inevitably leads to. Our faith and the people who we are compel us to express our grief and solidarity with those who are suffering because of this violent act.

On Saturday, October 27 a morally deranged, anti-Semitic killer entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and murdered eleven innocent and vulnerable congregants attending a baby-naming service, and seriously wounded six others. The assailant was eventually taken down by law enforcement officers, though not killed, and will be brought justice.

Our thoughts and prayers go out first and foremost to all the victims of the murders and their families and loved ones. We would be at a loss for words in the face of so great a tragedy, of such a heinous crime, if we were not people of the Word whose faith, we believe, is grounded in the very Word of God. And so, as people of the book of the Gospels we hold those who lost their lives and their loved ones in Pittsburgh and all People of the Book, all members of the Jewish community in our hearts at this time and grieve for them and with them.

We are deeply conscious of the historic injustices and cruelty that Jews have suffered, often enough at the hands of adherents of our own religious faith, a fact which causes us undying shame. To the extent that the toxic thought processes that fueled the cruelty of the Tree of Life murderer may have been influenced in any way by distorted attitudes toward members of the Jewish community in our own faith traditions, we accept responsibility for such horrific acts and beg forgiveness of the Jewish community and of Almighty God. There is no place in our faiths, as indeed there never should have been, for antisemitism. There is no place in civilized society for antisemitism. There should be no place in humanity for antisemitism. We of St. Mary’s Seminary & University denounce every form of antisemitism and those who adopt such attitudes and the ideas and rhetoric that proceed from them. Indeed, we denounce every form of unkind, cruel, provocative, inciteful and hateful attitudes and rhetoric, which by their nature fuel derangement and the kind of passions which eventually lead to such acts of violence and criminal behavior.

As people of the Word we know, as all People of the Book do, that words matter. The words we use matter. The way we speak matters. No one who speaks unkind, cruel, hateful or inciteful words can deny responsibility when acts of violence break out fueled by impassioned, unkind, cruel and hateful speech. As Americans, our Constitution may prohibit criminal prosecution of people for the words they use or other ways they express themselves, but our culture should not tolerate unkind, cruel, hateful and inciteful speech, ideas, and non-verbal forms of expression. We should denounce such speech and forms of expression at every turn, and our common values and commitment to the dignity of every person, as well as our reverence for life itself, should cause us to shun all who propagate hateful ideation though their words and other forms of expression. Our Constitution may require government officials to tolerate many abuses of language and expression that are at the core of cruel and hateful acts, but our culture ought to condemn them and shun those who engage in reckless and dangerous forms of expression that often enough intentionally incite others to acts of violence and cruelty, as well as when unkindness and cruelty are unintentional and things are said or otherwise expressed out of ignorance or simple boorishness.

The Tree of Life shooting raises many important issues our society seems unable to address effectively: the proliferation of dangerous weapons and gun violence; our society’s inability and even unwillingness to take effective measures to protect the most vulnerable among us; proposals to turn places of worship and schools into armed camps in the name of protecting the vulnerable, rather than protecting the vulnerable by addressing the root causes of the many acts of violence which have occurred in such places; an increasingly toxic culture that we have allowed to spring up and flourish in the name of a right of freedom of expression, a culture seemingly heedless of the right of all people to live in a society and a culture that is safe;  the failure of our culture to sufficiently nurture the very best in us, especially the capacity for kindness and regard and care for others; whether or not state-sponsored killing is the only response we can offer to hold those who kill unlawfully accountable. It is our hope that in time the Tree of Life slayings will, with other recent and not so recent horrific acts of violence, impel all responsible citizens to engage effective means to address these pressing social issues and needs in ways that will make our society safe and our culture kinder and more caring. We encourage all responsible citizens to recognize that we are governed by more than our Constitution, that we are accountable to One who is far greater and far more important than our civil government or our Constitution; we are governed, or ought to be governed, more importantly and more effectively by common moral and social values that seek to protect the vulnerable and provide for a culture and a society in which all can live in peace and safety as brothers and sisters of a common humanity.

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Alumni Days 2018

Over 100 alumni  returned to St. Mary’s to celebrated Alumni Days October 17th and 18th.  Fr. Phillip Brown gave the homily at Evening Prayer on October 17th  (click here to read), and Fr. Robert Leavitt, celebrating his 50th anniversary of ordination, was the celebrant and homilist.  Fr. Leavitt’s homily emphasized the theme of “The Courage of Reform in the Joy of the Gospel.” (click here to read).

Fr. Brown announced a new award in Fr. Leavitt’s honor – the Robert F. Leavitt Award for Pastoral Excellence given in recognition of Fr. Leavitt’s commitment to excellence in pastoral leadership as President Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University.  Fr. Leavitt was named the inaugural recipient.

Photo Gallery

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Welcome New Seminarians!

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.

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Statement on Clergy Abuse

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.
President-Rector

 

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2018 Graduation

“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.”

Read Dr. Buckley’s Full Commencement Address

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Diaconate Ordination

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.

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Dr. Freeman Hrabowski Gives the 2018 Carroll Lecture

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.

 

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Friends and Family Weekend

Brandon Feikles (Diocese of Erie) gives a tour to visiting friends and family.

St. Mary’s celebrated the bi-annual Friends and Family Weekend on March 16th-18th.  Over 100 family members joined the community for prayer and fellowship throughout the weekend. The highlight of the weekend was the celebration of the Installation of Lectors and Acolytes on Saturday, March 17th.   Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly was the main celebrant.

Photo Galleries:

Friends and Family Weekend

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Joint Service for 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

On March 11, 2018, St. Mary’s Seminary & University hosted an ecumenical prayer service for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The service in St. Mary’s chapel marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with common prayer focused on the journey from conflict to communion. Archbishop William Lori and Bishop William Gohl presided, assisted by Bishop Dennis Madden and Rev. Dr. Eric T. Campbell. Catholic participants included the St. Mary’s faculty and seminarians, and faculty from Mount St. Mary’s. Lutheran participants included seminarians from United Lutheran Seminary (both the Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses) and Princeton, area pastors, and Dr. Kathryn Johnson, who traveled from Chicago to represent Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

You can read Archbishop Lori’s full homily from the event here.

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Guatemala Mission Trip

February 25, 2018

Dear all,
We have safely made it back to St. Mary’s Seminary and have begun classes again.  We return to the seminary filled with hope and renewed by the people we encountered in Guatemala.  
After my last post, we learned about the people of Guatemala, the coffee farming/making process, their reforestation work, and the daily life of Guatemalan men and woman.  We also worked hard on some “block houses” in a rural area of Guatemala.  Some of the group worked on building stoves in the homes of some Guatemalan people in another part of the town.  
We learned quickly that building these homes was not easy but it gave new meaning to the words in the celebration of the Eucharist when the priest says: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.  Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made.  It will become for us the bread of life.”
The commitment of the Guatemalan people working with their hands brought this to life.

During our work, as we served alongside one another and the Guatemalan people, a deep sense of community, hospitality, and relationship, a deeper sense of life emerged, an encounter with Christ.  Through God’s goodness and the work of human hands, our hands and the hands of others, we encountered Christ this past week.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are grateful you have journeyed with us.  
In the hope & peace of Christ discovered more beautifully in Guatemala,

Matt Himes
Peace & Justice Chair
Seminarian | 3T | Archdiocese of Baltimore  

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Hello all,
Today, February 21, is our 4th full day in Guatemala! We cannot believe the time we have spent on our mission.

So far, we visited Santiago Atitlan where Blessed Fr. Stanley Rother ministered to the people and died for his people. We celebrated mass in the room where he was martyred and we were able to pray before his heart, buried in the church.

We have also had a tour of all of the work of the mission (Health clinic, School, women’s center), sorted coffee beans, worked at construction sites (of peoples’ homes), and went on a beautiful hike.

The people are beautiful in Guatemala. We have had many beautiful interactions with the people and have been moved by the simplicity, perseverance, hope, and faith of the people.

The work of the mission was established by Fr. Greg Shaffer, a diocesan priest sent on mission. Both he, Fr. John Goggin (who celebrating 50 years at the mission and is currently here with us), and Fr. Stanley Rother serve as incredible examples of the love of Christ and the true expression of priesthood.

This afternoon, as I write this, we are preparing to journey to learn about the coffee making process (coffee farming and exportation is a huge source of economy in San Lucas, Toliman), and then we will learn about reforestation efforts.

Please pray for us as we continue to be formed by beautiful people, one another, and ultimately Jesus, through our experiences and journey in Guatemala.

May God bless you,

Matt Himes
Peace & Justice Chair
Archdiocese of Baltimore | 3T

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Saturday, February 17

During Winter Break (February 17 – February 24), a group of seminarians and one faculty member will be journeying to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala for a Mission Trip. We will be serving the community through San Lucas Mission. While there, we will work on various projects such as building stoves, building homes, coffee bean farming, etc. Most importantly we will strive to be present to all those whom we encounter. We also look forward to celebrating mass at and visit the site of martyrdom of newly beatified Blessed Fr. Stanley Rother.

“In 1963, Fr. Greg Schaffer from the diocese of New Ulm, MN came to San Lucas Toliman and began work as a parish priest. Responding to the expressed felt needs of the community he realized that his work as a priest would be broader than he had imagined. He soon started programs in education, healthcare, construction, coffee as well as a visitor’s program inviting groups from the United States to walk along side the people and culture of San Lucas. Fr. Greg died in 2012 and the Friends of San Lucas was born to carry on his legacy of working with the people of San Lucas to alleviate the process of poverty.” For more information about San Lucas Mission, please check out their website here: https://www.sanlucasmission.org.

I ask that you please consider praying for us this week as we prepare to go on the mission and next week while we are there. Please pray especially that we may meet the needs of the Guatemalan people and that we may be vessels of the love of God, radiating Christ, and truly encountering all who we meet.

Those going on the mission trip:
John Bilenki, Archdiocese of Baltimore, MD, Pre-T
Nate Brooks, Diocese of Syracuse, NY, 3T
Jose Carvajal, Diocese of Worcester, MA, 1T
Fr. Scott Detisch, Diocese of Erie, Systematic Theology, Faculty Member
Brandon Feikles, Diocese of Erie, PA, 1T
Brennan Ferris, Diocese of Wilmington, DE, 1T
Brendan Foley, Diocese of Syracuse, NY, 1T
Matt Himes, Archdiocese of Baltimore, MD, 3T
Kevin Holland, Diocese of Erie, PA, 2T
Dcn. John Streifel, Archdiocese of Baltimore, MD, 4T
Patrick Walsh, Diocese of Richmond, VA, 1T

Please check the website for more updates throughout the week!

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