Rev. Innocent Smith, O.P.

Rev. Innocent Smith, O.P. Assistant Professor of Homiletics

ismith [at]


Curriculum vitae

Fr. Innocent Smith, O.P. was born in California and raised in Indiana. He discerned a vocation to the Dominicans while studying music and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and joined the St. Joseph Province of the Order of Preachers in 2008. After the novitiate in Cincinnati and philosophy and theology studies at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Fr. Innocent was ordained to the priesthood in 2015 by Archbishop Charles Brown.

From 2015 to 2018, Fr. Innocent served as parochial vicar at the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City, where he was in charge of adult formation and RCIA, and assisted with the renewal of the music program at the parish. He also served as the parish chaplain for the Frassati Fellowship of New York City. From 2018 to 2021, Fr. Innocent was assigned to the Priory of St. Kajetan in Munich, Germany, while he wrote a doctoral dissertation in liturgical studies at the University of Regensburg. He also assisted with Masses and confessions at the Theatinerkirche in Munich. Fr. Innocent joined the faculty of St. Mary’s Seminary & University in 2021 as Assistant Professor of Homiletics, and resides at the nearby Dominican community of Sts. Philip and James in Baltimore.

Fr. Innocent’s teaching and research interests include homiletics, liturgy, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, and sacred music. His S.T.L. thesis, “In Collecta Dicitur: The Oration as a Theological Authority for Thomas Aquinas,” explored the importance of the liturgy as a source for scholastic theology. His doctoral dissertation, “Doers of the Word: Bible Missals and the Celebration of the Dominican Liturgy,” focused on medieval manuscripts of the Bible that also contain liturgical texts for the celebration of Mass. Fr. Innocent examined manuscripts at libraries and museums throughout Europe and North America that form an important but previously understudied body of evidence for understanding the liturgical reception of the Bible and the development of the liturgy in the Middle Ages. In addition to publishing popular and scholarly articles related to theology, liturgy, and music, Fr. Innocent has edited chant books that make the musical and liturgical tradition of the Dominican Order available for use in the contemporary liturgy.

In 2015, Fr. Innocent was appointed a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis, and he has exercised this ministry in the form of parish missions, retreat preaching, and confessional ministry. He has given lectures and workshops on liturgy and chant for a variety of lay, religious, and clerical audiences, including communities of active and contemplative religious women as well as young adult groups. In addition to his communal life and ministry, Fr. Innocent enjoys playing Irish traditional music on the wooden flute; bicycling; reading German and English literature; and attending concerts, opera and the ballet.

Selected Courses Taught

  • Preaching the Lectionary
  • Theology of the Eucharist

Service to the Church

  • Missionary of Mercy
  • Parish Missions
  • Assistance with masses and confessional ministry at nearby parishes
  • Workshops in preaching, liturgy, and sacred music
  • Presentations at academic conferences

Selected Publications

  • “Medieval Encounters with the Propers of the Mass,” Worship 95 (2021): 267–77.
  • “The Orations of the Medieval Dominican Liturgy,” in The Medieval Dominicans: Books, Buildings, Music, and Liturgy, ed. Eleanor J. Giraud and Christian T. Leitmeir (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021): 285–98.
  • “‘Lest the sisters lose devotion’: Dominican Liturgy and the Cura Monialium Question in the Thirteenth Century,” in The Medieval Dominicans: Books, Buildings, Music, and Liturgy, ed. Eleanor Giraud and Christian Leitmeir (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021): 321-33.
  • “Beyond the Initials: Melodic Evidence for the Liturgical Origin of a Regensburg Antiphonary,” in Gottesdienst in Regensburger Institutionen: Zur Vielfalt liturgischer Traditionen in der Vormoderne, ed. Harald Buchinger and Sabine Reichert, Forum Mittelalter Studien 18 (Regensburg: Verlag Schnell und Steiner, 2021), 295–306.
  • “St. Thomas Aquinas and the Early Christian Virgin Martyrs,” Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorums. 4 (2019): 5–36.
  • “1 Timothy 2, 1 and the Expositiones Missae of Thomas Aquinas,” Sacris Erudiri 58 (2019): 203–19.
  • “Scriptural Plurality in the Writings of Thomas Aquinas: The Case of Psalm 67, 7,” European Journal for the Study of Thomas Aquinas 37 (2019): 49–64.
  • “Liturgical Prayer and the Theology of Mercy in Thomas Aquinas and Pope Francis,” Theological Studies 79 (2018): 782–800.
  • “The Divine Office and the Dominican Life,” Sacred Music 145:2 (2018): 33–43.
  • “The Feast of the Nativity and the Christology of Yves Congar,” Worship 92 (2018): 551–59.
  • Yves Congar, “The Ecumenical Value and Scope of Some Hermeneutical Principles of Saint Thomas Aquinas,” trans. Andrew Jacob Cuff and Innocent Smith, Pro Ecclesia 26 (2017): 186–201.
  • “The formularies ‘Pro unitate Christianorum’ in the 2002 Missale Romanum,” Studia Liturgica 45 (2015): 1–15.
  • “Vagaggini and Congar on the Liturgy and Theology,” Questions Liturgiques 96 (2015): 191–221.
  • “Ecclesial Authorship, the Council, and the Liturgy: Reflections on a Debate between Ratzinger and Lefebvre,” Angelicum 92 (2015): 93–113.
  • “Liturgical Irenicism and the Unity of the Church,” New Blackfriars 96 (2015): 3–11.
  • Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2009-present): articles on various topics related to liturgy and the Bible, including “Lauds,” “Lectionary,” “Liturgical Books,” “Roman Catholic Liturgy,” and “Missale Romanum.”

Recommended Reading

  • Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000)
  • A. G. Sertillanges, O.P., The Intellectual Life (1921)
  • Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers (1857)
  • Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time (1951–1975)
  • Clive James, Cultural Amnesia (2007)

A Favorite Quotation

But learn, O monk, that the outcome of a human life converges from endless sources, so that if you do not see which little creeks feed into a great river, and yet wish to understand the river’s greatness, you must come to know each brook. — Ernest Krenek, Karl V