St. Mary's Seminary & University

Welcome to St. Mary’s

Welcome from the President-Rector

Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector, Vice Chancellor, B.M., S.T.B., J.D., J.C.D.

Peace Be With You!

Welcome to the St. Mary’s Seminary & University website! I hope you will find our website interesting and useful.

It’s a great honor to have been asked to serve as St. Mary’s Rector. St. Mary’s is the oldest Catholic seminary in United States, where more priests have been ordained for service in the U.S. than from any other seminary. St. Mary’s has always dedicated itself to training pastors attuned to the needs and the sensibilities of American Catholics. St. Mary’s can therefore justly be called America’s “cradle of pastors.”

But St. Mary’s is not only the nations premier seminary, it also has boasted since 1968 a unique Ecumenical Institute contributing to superior theological training and scholarship, and as a matchless forum for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. Add to that St. Mary’s renowned Center for Continuing Formation, the Knott Library and the Associated Archives of St. Mary’s, the American Province of the Society of St. Sulpice and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and one realizes what a historic, vibrant and outstanding center of learning, scholarship and formation St. Mary’s Seminary & University and its associated institutions truly is.

Those seeking theological and pastoral education are men and women who have experienced the Lord’s peace and want to pass it on. The need for this peace is deeply felt today. Life in this world has always been marked by turbulence and the felt need for peace. Christians have discovered how to be at peace in the midst of the world’s turmoil; peace that leads men to the priesthood, others to other kinds of ministry. The Christian’s mission is to bring peace to the world, the priest’s to do so through sacramental and pastoral ministry.

When I left my first assignment to St. Mary’s 10 years ago we had just experienced violent storms that uprooted trees and left people homeless. Among the many trees that were still standing on our beautiful grounds was a mighty oak which served for me as a powerful metaphor for seminary formation and pastoral ministry. When I spoke to the community, I used that metaphor to express my feelings about the ministry of priests and others, and what St. Mary’s is really all about, citing the words of Psalm 1:

Happy the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent
But delights in the law of the Lord
and meditates on his law day and night.
He is like a tree planted near running water
That yields its fruit in due season,
 and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

     I also shared a favorite poem by Robert Frost which expresses my feelings about being a minister of the Gospel in this world:

Tree at My Window

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn 
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
 And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
 And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
 Fate had her imagination about her,
 Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

     I offer these same words as welcome to St. Mary’s and to our website, and as a touchstone for what I hope our ministry here will continue to be: a conduit for Christ’s peace to enter more profoundly into the lives of those who live and work and who are formed here, into your life, and into our world.