Category: St. Mary’s News

Final Phase of Renovations Completed

renovated residence room

Small LoungeThe final phase of renovations to the living areas of the seminary have been completed, bringing to an end the two-year construction project and an even lengthier period of planning and organization. The project reimagined a 1929 dormitory-style collection of small rooms built for hundreds of seminarians–along with communal bathrooms and showers, and fitness and recreation areas–in need of updating. These were converted into modern, welcoming–yet far from luxurious–residential floors with over 100 small suites (created by combining two former small dormitory rooms) plus lounges, small kitchens, and prayer rooms.

Exercise RoomEach suite contains space for a bed, a study area, a reading chair, and a private bath. The fitness room has been completely renovated with modern equipment to promote healthy physical development and care. Scattered among the seminarian rooms are suites for the Sulpician faculty members as well. Sulpician faculty live among the students as a “formational community” or communauté éducatrice in the words of Jean-Jacque Olier, founder of “The Society of the Priests of the Seminary of St. Sulpice” in Paris, France in the 1600s.

The project is much more than a the renovation of a building. It is actually a part of the wider re-commitment and revitalization of the entire process of human formation at the seminary. Human Formation is considered one of the four “pillars,” or dimensions, of Roman Catholic priestly formation (along with spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation). At St. Mary’s, human formation is a cornerstone to priestly formation. “We are forming men to be healthy, happy, holy, and mature priests–the kind of priests the people of God deserve,” says Fr. Phillip J. Brown, President-Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University.

Providing living spaces for adult, mature young men (and older, as well) is a key aspect to this formational goal.

The last of the renovated rooms was blessed on Monday, August 30. A Mass of Gratitude and reception for the contractors and companies involved in the renovation was held on September 10 (picture below).

Mass of Gratitude for Renovation Completion-9/10/2021

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St. Mary’s Welcomes New Seminary Faculty

Rev. Innocent Smith, O.P. and Dr. James Starke Join the Faculty

St. Mary’s welcomes two new members of the Seminary/School of Theology faculty: Rev. Innocent Smith, O.P. and Dr. James Starke.

Dominican Father Innocent Smith, who is also a Missionary of Mercy appointed by Pope Francis, has ministry, teaching, and research specialties in homiletics, liturgy, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, and sacred music. He joins the faculty as Assistant Professor of Homiletics. He will also serve as the Director of Spiritual Life Programs. See his full faculty description and C.V….

Dr. James Starke most recently served as Director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. Dr. Starke and his family live in Arlington, VA and enjoy spending time in nature parks, visiting museums, and playing sports. He joins the faculty as Assistant Professor of Systematics. He will also serve as Director of Liturgy. See his full faculty description and C.V….

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SAGE Dining Services Begins

SAGE Dining Services begins at St. Mary's Welcome to our New Food Service Provider—SAGE!

renovated serveryOver the summer St. Mary’s has done a complete renovation of the servery with beautiful new flooring, lighting, and technical upgrades. SAGE, our new food service provider, has done a complete revision of the menu to provide new offerings, healthy choices and always-available information. Digital communications have been deployed with the SAGE dining services app for easy access to menus, nutritional information and recipes as well as opportunities to give feedback and view events.

Get started with the “Touch of SAGE” mobile app for both Android and iOS:

  1. Download and install from your respective app store.
  2. Register your profile by completing the forms (when you put in the 21210 zip code, you’ll see “St. Mary’s Seminary & University” as an option).
  3. Make sure you verify your email when you setup your profile (check your spam/junk folder if you didn’t see it come in).
  4. Wait for the start of the academic year for the menus and goodies to begin!

See you in the refectory!

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St. Mary’s Welcomes 17 New Seminarians

The orientation team of upperclass seminarians welcomes a new seminarian to St. Mary's.

On August 24, St. Mary’s Seminary & University welcomed 17 new seminarians to the newly renovated Baltimore seminary. They were greeted by a large orientation team of current students across all classes, from Pre-Theology to those in their four (and final) year.

The new arrivals come from diverse backgrounds and regions. At St. Mary’s, they will study for the priesthood for the (arch)dioceses of:

  • Albany
  • Baltimore
  • Buffalo
  • Pittsburgh
  • Scranton
  • Syracuse
  • Wilmington
  • Worcester.

Two new seminarians are members of the Trinitarian Order. And four priests from two dioceses in Cameroon arrived to study for the Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) degree. 

This results in a total of 80 men studying at the Roland Park seminary.

Following their arrival, the new seminarians commenced multiple days of orientation and introduction to life, prayer, study, and pastoral service in the seminary. Beginning Tuesday, August 31, they opened their year with several retreat days. Classes began on Thursday, September 2.

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The McGivney Series | Part III: “Forming Seminarians in the Model of Blessed Michael McGivney”

St. Mary’s Seminary & University Hosts Part III of “The McGivney Series” in Honor of Blessed Fr. Michael J. McGivney, Class of 1877

[Recording below]

On Tuesday, August 17, 2021, from 7:00-8:00 PM EDT, St. Mary’s, the first Roman Catholic seminary in the United States, presented Part III of the virtual discussion series created in honor of Blessed Michael J. McGivney, Class of 1877, and founder of the Knights of Columbus.

This third segment of “The McGivney Series” addressed the question: “what should seminaries be doing today to develop priests in the model of Blessed Michael McGivney?” The panelists for this presentation were:

  • His Eminence Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, Former Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, former Rector of the North American College in Rome and St. Joseph’s Seminary & College (Dunwoodie) in New York, and Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore.
  • Mr. Michael Schultz, 2nd Year Seminarian of the Archdiocese of Louisville and Grand Knight of the Blessed Michael McGivney Council of the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s.
  • Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University (Host/Moderator).

We look to those the Church calls “venerable,” “blessed,” or “saint” as models. Their virtues, actions, and dispositions provide guideposts for measuring our lives and examples to strive for. Blessed Michael McGivney is no different. His life and ministry as a priest, particularly as an American priest formed in our own seminary, provides further opportunities for reflection. His priestly witness reveals a life that many priests can, and should, model their own after. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate to ask our thematic question: “what should seminaries be doing today to develop priests in the model of Fr. McGivney?” We will approach this question by way of two prior inquiries:

  1. What are the “qualities” of Blessed Michael McGivney exhibited in his priesthood?
  2. How can today’s priests (particularly the newly ordained just out of seminary) embody these qualities in their own ministry in the twenty-first century church?
  3. Finally, what should we be doing in seminaries to develop these kind of priests: priests in the “model” of Michael McGivney?

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St. Mary’s Signs On to Sexual Misconduct Policy Benchmarks

Signature on paper First Seminary to Respond to the Call

On May 18, 2021 the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame opened a webpage dedicated to an effort establishing benchmarks for sexual misconduct policies at seminaries and houses of formation.

The effort follows on a study from the Center for Advanced Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University that was commissioned by the McGrath Institute. The study revealed the need for seminaries to more effectively promote policies regarding misconduct. A study group comprised of bishops, seminary rectors and faculty, and lay experts was convened to develop the set of “benchmarks.” Seminaries and houses of formation would be invited to publicly commit to these policy benchmarks and their implementation.

As the call went out, St. Mary’s Seminary & University was the first to commit–primarily because the benchmarks reflected the already-existent policy framework in effect at our institution.

Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector of St. Mary’s issued the following statement after the McGrath announcement:

The McGrath benchmarks reflect St. Mary’s Seminary’s longstanding already existing policies and commitment. St. Mary’s is therefore happy to sign on to those benchmarks. The Theodore McCarrick revelations highlight three important responsibilities of seminary administrators:

  1. To thoroughly vet, evaluate and remain vigilant regarding seminary applicants and do everything possible to make sure predators do not gain admission to the clerical state.
  2. To protect seminarians from predators, especially those who seek access through association with the seminary as faculty, staff, recruiters, or board members.
  3. To educate and form seminarians in virtue and sensitivity respecting the protection of minors and other vulnerable people; especially never to turn a blind eye to signs of possible misconduct, including among peers or superiors in the seminary or clerical state.

The McGrath Institute announcement with the full list of the first fifteen seminaries to sign on to the benchmarks is available at https://mcgrath.nd.edu/about/centers-initiatives-and-programs/directors-initiatives/benchmarks/.

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Profiles in Ministry

Ad image for Profiles in Ministry Catch Up on the Complete Profiles in Ministry Series

In February-March 2021, St. Mary’s debuted a new video series to introduce members of the St. Mary’s community to followers of social media channels and the SMSU website. The first five videos, no more than three minutes each, allowed the subjects to “tell their own stories” in words and images.

The first videos drew an overwhelmingly positive reaction, including showings on the CatholicTV cable network. In Summer 2021, six more videos premiered—three seminarians and three alumni. The series will continue in 2021-2022 with more stories that make up the community of St. Mary’s Seminary & University.

The collection of videos in the Profiles in Ministry series can be accessed through an entire showcase on the St. Mary’s Vimeo channel. Or view each individual video below.

 

           

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The McGivney Series | Part II: “Practically Catholic”

St. Mary’s Seminary & University Hosts Part II of “The McGivney Series” in Honor of Beatification of Alumnus Fr. Michael J. McGivney, Class of 1877

[Recording below]

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, St. Mary’s, the first Roman Catholic seminary in the United States, presented Part II of the virtual discussion series created in honor of the beatification of Blessed Michael J. McGivney, Class of 1877 and founder of the Knights of Columbus, by Pope Francis on October 31, 2020.

This second segment of the “The McGivney Series,” provides an examination of the most basic requirement of membership in the Knights of Columbus, demonstrated by Blessed Michael J. McGivney during his ministry: that of being a “practical Catholic.” The panel discussion featured:

  • Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo
  • Mr. Terry Waters, State Program Director of the Maryland State Council of the Knights of Columbus
  • Mr. Benjamin Daghir, 3rd Year Seminarian for the Diocese of Erie and a 4th degree Knight
  • Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University.

To be a “practical Catholic” is to put into practice Christ’s commandment to “love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” The panelists explored what it means to promote and perpetuate Christ-like service in the present age—as both a means of evangelization and of serving real and persistent needs. This is not only the legacy of Blessed Michael McGivney, but also the priestly formation found in the Sulpician tradition at St. Mary’s Seminary.

During his lifetime, Fr. McGivney demonstrated uncommon pastoral zeal, Christ-like humility, care and compassion for others, and an uncompromising commitment to the largely immigrant community he served as a parish priest in New Haven, CT. From this he brought forth the vision of a new fraternal organization: the Knights of Columbus. In this, he fulfilled the vision of the priestly life for which he was prepared through the four years he attended St. Mary’s as a member of the Class of 1877.

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Conversations in Faith | The Fullness of Life

Conversations in Faith: The Fullness of Life (feature image)

On January 29, 2021, St. Mary’s Seminary & University presented a special online symposium on Catholic doctrine and the Church’s teaching about the sanctity of human life at all stages, featuring a panel consisting of:

  • Archbishop William Lori (Archdiocese of Baltimore)
  • Dr. Matthew Dugandzic (Professor of Moral Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University)
  • Kevin Upendran (Seminarian, Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario)
  • Mike Misulia (Seminarian, Archdiocese of Baltimore).

The presentation was recorded and uploaded to the St. Mary’s Seminary & University YouTube channel. It is available below:

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The McCarrick Report: a call to reform Catholic priest selection | COMMENTARY

By PHILLIP J. BROWN | FOR THE BALTIMORE SUN | NOV 18, 2020 AT 11:29 AM

In this Nov. 10, 2003 file photo, Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., center, joins fellow clergy in prayer at the end of the opening session of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Washington. McCarrick – who was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 – served as head of Catholic dioceses in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, and in Washington. A report released by the Vatican on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, found that three decades of bishops, cardinals and popes dismissed or downplayed reports of McCarrick’s misconduct with young men. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The McCarrick Report investigating sexual abuse by disgraced former Washington, D.C., cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, released this month by the Vatican, catalogs facts that cannot be ignored, denied or explained away. The harm inflicted by Mr. McCarrick over decades is a source of deep remorse and shame for the Catholic Church. Like most, I am bewildered that he was able to advance in the ranks while preying on victims even while serious accusations about him were known or credibly rumored.

Before priesthood, I served as assistant attorney general for Pardons, Parole and Probation in North Dakota. I reviewed the files of every inmate in the corrections system, which included every kind of sex crime. Later I served as guardian ad litem for the juvenile court, representing the interests of children, including those who had been sexually abused. As a priest and canon lawyer, I have been deeply involved in cases of clerical sexual abuse of children and young people. I have had a life-long commitment to the welfare and well-being of children and young adults — that they be protected from sexual predators especially. That life experience has informed my work as a canonist and now as a seminary official.

The greatest value of the McCarrick Report will be what we learn from it to ensure that nothing like this is able to happen again.

We know so much more than ever before about how to cultivate human maturity, psychological and emotional well-being, and the qualities necessary to be a well-integrated, virtuous person. We need to be guided by scientific data and well-articulated criteria in judging whether a man is suitable to be ordained a priest, given the tremendous responsibility to care for others and everything else this vocation entails. There can be no room for wishful thinking or a misguided trust that sacramental grace will compensate for deficits in the human qualities needed to be a good pastor; no one should ever again simply ordain a man and hope for the best.

There must be a willingness to exclude anyone who does not fulfill objective criteria of maturity, self-possession, self-control, self-discipline and goodwill toward all others; to exclude anyone who presents any identifiable risk of the capacity to do harm to others. A “pastoral heart” full of good intentions is not enough; there must be a demonstrated capacity to behave in every circumstance as a good pastor and to function as a mature, psycho-sexually healthy person. The criteria have to be applied rigorously. Everyone must agree that “looking the other way,” waiting for someone else to make the hard calls, claiming “plausible deniability,” or naive credulity — all features of the institutional culture revealed in the McCarrick Report — are wholly unacceptable.

Seminaries must shed the veneer of being sacred enclaves that non-clerics are just not able, or qualified, to understand or critique — clerics forming future clerics with no input from others. Laypersons, and especially women, must be an integral part of seminary faculties with prominent roles in the formation and evaluation process. They bring an essential perspective to the closed clerical world with its inevitable blind spots that led to tragedies like the depredations of Theodore McCarrick.

Seminary officials have often had good instincts about suitability without the technical knowledge and other tools we have today for making sound judgments (sophisticated psychological evaluations, holistic developmental models based on sound science, etc.). Those in positions of authority and officials who serve them need to listen to the people charged with the responsibility of formation and evaluation and follow their recommendations, regardless of pressures to get men ordained and get them into service — service that has too often been marred, if not contradicted, by human immaturity and a lack of virtue in men who should never have been ordained in the first place.

Better to lose one priest than gain even one more victim of a morally depraved cleric. And those in authority have to want to know and be willing to turn those away who, however well-intentioned, are ill-suited to the rigors of ministry and a lifetime of service. That is what the seminary I serve is committed to. All schools of formation must be committed to these standards. Future failure is not an option. “Many are called, but few are chosen” must be a constant reminder for all those who dare to pursue the Catholic priesthood.

Rev. Phillip J. Brown (brownpj@stmarys.edu) is president-rector of Saint Mary’s Seminary & University, the United States’ first and oldest Catholic seminary, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The article can be found here in the Baltimore Sun.

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