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2022 Annual Dunning Lecture, featuring Edgardo Colón-Emeric


The 2022 Dunning Lecture will be held on Thursday, November 10th at 7:30 p.m. in Laubacher Hall.

Event is free to join in person or online, but registration is requested

Edgardo Colón-Emeric is the Dean of Duke Divinity School and the Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology. He also serves as the director of the Center for Reconciliation at the Divinity School.

Colón-Emeric’s work explores the intersection of Methodist and Catholic theologies, and Wesleyan and Latin American experiences. Colón-Emeric has served on the United Methodist Committee on Faith and Order and on both national and international Methodist-Catholic dialogues. In October 2017, he met with Pope Francis as part of a delegation from the Methodist-Catholic Dialogue and presented the pope with a Spanish translation he created of the dialogue’s bilateral statement.

Colón-Emeric’s latest book The People Called Metodistas: Renewing Doctrine, Worship, and Mission from the Margins was released this summer. His other books include Wesley, Aquinas, and Christian Perfection: An Ecumenical Dialogue (Baylor University Press, 2009) which received the 2008 “Aquinas Dissertation Prize Winner” from the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University and Óscar Romero’s Theological Vision: Liberation and the Transfiguration of the Poor (Notre Dame University Press, 2018), which received first place in the 2019 Catholic Press Association award for books about newly canonized saints.


Letters from the Park Returns

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.

Read/Download as PDF


Full Text:

Letters from the Park

Letter #1

February 2022
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.

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.

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?


Rev. Katherine Sonderegger to Give 2021 Dunning Lecture


The Mission of the Holy Son into an Unholy World

November 18, 7:30 pm
Laubacher Hall or via livestream

Perhaps the central word in Scripture for the reality and ministry of the Son of God is ‘sending.’  He is the One sent, by His Father into the created realm, Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.  And He is sent throughout His earthly life, to do the work He is given to do, to enter into the night of the world, its chaos and indifference and cruelty, to be the world’s Light.  He is sent to the Cross, an act at once Transcendent and altogether earthly.  This talk will explore the Mission of the Holy Son under one, dominant and complex idea, that of sacrifice, which best captures the kind of ‘sending’ that characterizes Christ’s life.  The Eternal Son is the Living Sacrifice, sent to be the world’s Sacrifice.  He is the Holy One in an unholy world.  In this way, the Temple worship of ancient Israel—its cultic sacrifice—comes to life and guides the teaching of the Church in its Doctrines of the Person and Work of Christ.

The Rev. Katherine Sonderegger holds the Wm Meade Chair in Systematic Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA, where she has taught since 2002.  She was educated at Smith College, Yale Divinity School, and Brown University, where she undertook research on the great 20th century Reformed theologian, Karl Barth.  Prior to taking her position at VTS, Kate taught in the Religion department at Middlebury College in Vermont.  While she grew up a Presbyterian, and her Reformed roots still run deep, she is now a priest of the Episcopal Church, resident in the diocese of Virginia.  Her vocation is the study and writing of systematic theology.  Two volumes of her Systematic Theology on the Doctrine of Divine Attributes and of the Holy Trinity have appeared under Fortress Press, 2015, 2020.  Her current research for volume 3 is on the Missions of the Son and Spirit.  When not at her desk, Kate can be found outdoors: gardening, hiking, sailing, riding her bike, or heading to a ball game. 

To attend the event in-person, please register HERE, or attend online via livestream. Please contact Dr. Rebecca Hancock with any questions about the event. 


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


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.


Psalm 91 in a Time of Pandemic

The following video is derived from Dr. Derek Olsen’s presentation for the virtual #TheologyTownHall held Wednesday, May 27, 2020. PLEASE NOTE: You may need to pause the video on some slides to allow time for reading the text. [Join us at noon on Wednesdays for Theology Town Halls led out by different members of the EI community.]


Mass for the Rite of Candidacy

On Monday, November 11, 2019, three seminarians –Scott Kady of the Archdiocese of Baltimore; José Carvajal and Carlos Ardila of the Diocese of Worcester were admitted into Candidacy by the Most Reverend Ronald Gainer, Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg.  Candidacy is a liturgical rite of admission requested by a seminarian of his own Ordinary, which formally acknowledges and enrolls him as a candidate for Sacred Orders.


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EI Staff New Staff Hires & Updates

Dean Laytham is pleased to welcome new colleagues to St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute, as well as announce one change in title.

Kaye Guidugli will succeed Patty Rath (who is retiring) as Director of Recruitment and Advancement. Kaye is an EI alum (MAT 2010) who has worked for many years in higher education (University of Maryland system). Kaye’s work there focused especially on providing access and promoting success for all students. Kaye begins work January 11.

Rev. Jason Poling, DMin, will be our Director of the Doctor of Ministry program. This part-time (5 hrs/week) position has already commenced, so that Dr. Poling can help lead us through the DMin accreditation process. Dr. Poling is an EI alum (MAT 2007) and long-serving board member. He is currently Priest-in-Charge, St. Andrew’s (Pasadena) and All Saints’ (Reisterstown).

Marcia Hancock is our new part-time Billing Specialist (succeeding Teresa Guion in a modified position). She has bookkeeping skill, computer expertise, and patience. The latter has been especially handy as Marcia is learning the new position at our busiest time of the year.

Dr. Rebecca Hancock’s title has been changed to Assistant Dean of Student Services, reflecting more accurately the full scope of her administrative work with faculty, students, and directing the MDiv partnership. Doubtless all who have worked with Dr. Hancock will want to congratulate her on this accomplishment.


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.