St. Mary’s Receives $1 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment
For Release: November 29, 2021
(Baltimore, MD) – St. Mary’s Seminary & University–the nation’s first Roman Catholic seminary established for the formation of priests in the United States–has been awarded a grant in the amount of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the design and implementation of St. Mary’s Institute for Pastoral Leadership. The mission of the Institute will be to strengthen St. Mary’s recognized leadership in forming 21st century pastors equipped to minister collaboratively with lay ministers and parish leaders to address the spiritual and pastoral needs of those served through the wide variety of ministries and outreach programs in Catholic parishes.
The initiation of the Institute is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s “Pathways for Tomorrow” Initiative, a three‐phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada prioritize and respond to their most pressing challenges as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.
“We could not be more grateful to Lilly Endowment for its recognition of St. Mary’s commitment to forming authentic and effective pastors, equipped in every way for the rigors of pastoral ministry in the 21st century,” said St. Mary’s Seminary & University President‐Rector Revered Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S. “With this significant grant, we will be able to accelerate and expand programs to provide model human and pastoral formation, not only for those seminarians currently in formation, but continuing education and essential resources for priests already in parish ministry addressing the varied pastoral needs of those who depend on them and their pastoral teams each and every day. St. Mary’s mission is to provide the people of God with the kind of priests and pastors they truly deserve.”
St. Mary’s Seminary & University is the birthplace of priestly formation in the United States. At the invitation of Bishop John Carroll, first Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States, Father François Nagot, S.S., led a group of Sulpician priests and seminarians to Baltimore to begin priestly formation here on October 3, 1791. Since then, St. Mary’s has been operated by the Sulpician Fathers, a community of diocesan priests dedicated to the formation of parish priests. Currently, 76 seminarians are in formation at St. Mary’s from 13 dioceses throughout the United States, as well as Hamilton, Ontario and Zhao Xian China, in addition to 4 graduate student priests, for a total enrollment of 80. Among them are also 2 religious seminarians from the Trinitarian Order, one Cistercian, and one seminarian from the Société des Missions Étrangères de Paris.
St. Mary’s already provides a holistic curriculum focused on the human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual dimensions necessary for effective priestly ministry. The changing landscape of the Church in America demands ongoing assessment of the way seminaries prepare men to serve the needs of parishioners in the present day, however. These changing dynamics call for enhanced ongoing formation opportunities for enhanced ministerial skills to support clergy in their ministries. As part of the Institute for Pastoral Leadership initiative St. Mary’s will utilize the Lilly Endowment grant to upgrade and expand its existing Center for Continuing Formation.
Inspired by Pope Francis and his insistence that ordained ministry be understood first and foremost as a call and commitment to service, St. Mary’s Institute for Pastoral Leadership will focus on three key areas: seminary formation, ongoing formation, and faculty development. The upgrading of formation programs will include academic courses on philosophy of pastoral leadership and communication skills; workshops on essential and foundational communication skills and collaboration skills; experiential learning opportunities to build collaboration skills; and facilitated learning sessions to more effectively integrate pastoral field experiences. Ongoing formation programs will focus on the critical first five years of priestly ministry, in addition to courses on preaching, parish administration, clergy/lay collaboration, guiding volunteers and enabling lay leadership. These areas of concentration were identified based on feedback from interviews conducted for developing ongoing formation programs that can be offered as distance learning modules, along with continued onsite programs. Faculty Development will be designed to ensure that faculty members, supervisors and mentors are able to effectively help seminarians implement and integrate what they learn in formation into their lived experience.
In developing the Institute for Pastoral Leadership, St. Mary’s will create a nationally accessible innovative formation program as a resource for other seminarians and priests across the country. It is envisioned that the impact of the Institute will reach far beyond St. Mary’s seminarians and alumni and the parishes they serve.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University is one of 84 theological schools designated to receive a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American and recent immigrant Christian communities.
“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well‐prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.
About St. Mary’s Seminary & University
America’s first Catholic seminary, St. Mary’s Seminary & University continues its tradition of excellence since 1791 in preparing candidates for the Roman Catholic diocesan priesthood. Following the Sulpician Tradition of priestly formation, which takes place within a single community of formators and seminarians sharing one rule of life with strong mentoring relationships, we facilitate personal integration of the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral dimensions necessary for authentic priestly witness and service in the image of Jesus Christ.
Through its Center for Continuing Formation and Ecumenical Institute, St. Mary’s also provides for advanced theological study, the ongoing formation of those in ministry, and a center of preparation for missionary discipleship.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis‐based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well‐being.
Members of the St. Mary’s community have an impact far beyond our Baltimore location. These are some of the latest examples.
Drs. Mabry and Smith at Villanova Conference
Drs. Eric Mabry and Innocent Smith, O.P. were presenters at Villanova University’s 46th International Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Conference (PMR). The conference was held October 15-17, 2021 on the theme “Cum Dilatasti Cor Meum: Knowledge, Affect, and the Dilation of the Heart.”
Fr. Innocent presented on “Beauty, Devotion, and the Medieval Liturgy” during the session on Beauty and Emotion in Christian Material Culture.
Dr. Eric Mabry presented on “Paratum cor meum, Deus: Christological Affectivity in Medieval Exegesis of the Psalms” during a session on Medieval Exegesis. He also chaired the session on the Theology of Bonaventure.
Fr. Burton Offers Parish Series at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen
Fr. William Burton, O.F.M., S.T.D. is presenting an adult formation series on “Paul & the Early Church” at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Charles Street, Baltimore. The 4-part series takes place on the first four Tuesday evenings of November.
St. Mary’s Music Director with the Basilica’s Schola Cantorum
St. Mary’s own music director, Samuel Rowe, directed the Schola Cantorum at First Vespers of All Saints at the Baltimore Basilica on Sunday, October 31. See fb.me/e/KvakrABu.
On November 15, St. Mary’s Seminary & University collaborated with Saint Luke Institute to host an evening for Bishops during their November meeting in Baltimore. St. Mary’s President Rector, Rev. Phillip Brown, P.S.S. and Saint Luke’s CEO, Rev. David Songy, O.F.M. Cap. gave brief presentations during the dinner. St. Mary’s was also represented by six seminarians.
St. Mary’s already partners with Saint Luke Institute on a number of initiatives including candidate assessments, counseling, and human formation. Several Saint Luke staff members have done workshops in pastoral skills for seminarians and resourcing for faculty and formators.
Dr. Michael Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, attended the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in San Antonio, TX from November 20-23. He was a respondent in a session devoted to Pauline Theology, specifically the meaning of justice in the letters of Paul.
On Tuesday, November 16, Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles visited St. Mary’s seminarians for a question-and-answer dialogue. He answered questions about discernment, preaching, and how to evangelize in our modern world.
This past summer, Mary Pat Seurkamp, Ph.D. was named chair of the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. Dr. Seurkamp, who is the president emerita of Notre Dame of Maryland University, is a former member of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Seminary & University who continues to serve on the Education & Formation Committee of the Board. She brings more than 40 years of experience in higher education administration and governance to these roles.
MHEC is Maryland’s higher education coordinating board which establishes statewide policies for the state’s public and private colleges and universities and for-profit career schools. MHEC also administers state financial aid programs for students
Dr. Seurkamp chaired the board of the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) from 2003 through 2005 and is a senior advisor for the New Presidents Program. She led the Maryland Independent College and University Association Board (MICUA) from 2008 to 2011, served on the board and executive committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and was chair of the Maryland Hospital Association Board. She is a founding partner of MPK&D, a higher education consulting firm.
Dr. Seurkamp, a magna cum laude graduate of Webster University (’68) with a B.A. in psychology, holds a M.A. in counseling from Washington University, and a Ph.D. in higher education from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is a graduate of Maryland Leadership ’99 and was recognized as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, Circle of Excellence, by The Daily Record. She lives on the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, with her husband, Bob.