New Pastors’ Program: Register Now
St. Mary’s Center for Continuing Formation is currently accepting registrations for the annual New Pastors’ Program to be held November 6-11, 2022 at the Center on the St. Mary’s campus in Baltimore, MD.
See the detailed schedule and download the registration form on the New Pastors’ Program page.
St. Mary’s President Rector, Fr. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., presents his next reflection for the St. Mary’s community, Letters from the Park. In it, Fr. Brown takes his inspiration from a quote from Dante’s The Divine Comedy, saying:
It seemed appropriate to me to reflect for this second of the revived Letters from the Park on this passage, an image of one emerging from catastrophe, looking back on perils escaped, as he moves forward toward new vistas, some dark and fearsome, others offering hope, eventually leading to a final sublime state.
Letters from the Park
Baltimore: Roland Park Neighborhood
|E come quei che con lena affinata
Uscito fuor del pelago alla riva
Si volge a l’aqua perigliosa e guataCosì l’animo mio che ancor’fugiva
Si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo
Che non lascio già mai persona viva
|And as one shipwrecked, with panting breath
Emerges from open sea onto the shore,
Turns to gape at the perilous waterSo my soul, still fleeing in terror,
Turns to gaze at the woodland passage
Which leaves no person alive who lingers there.
Dante Aleghieri, La Divina Commedia
Dear St. Mary’s Community,
The Divine Comedy is the story of a soul. Written in the fourteenth century, it touches on themes strangely contemporary. “Contemporary” because they are universal: the ultimate consequences of human actions; how to live in the face of the unpredictability and stresses of human existence; what is our relationship with God, and what should our relationships with one another be like; what constitutes good governance and bad governance in human affairs; what, ultimately, is life all about.
Civilization seemed at a high point when Dante wrote, but it was also plagued by corruption, violence, selfishness, and decadence in its highest circles. The themes of the Comedy are not exclusively “spiritual” but related as well to the real world in which its characters had lived.
Dante and his guide, the Roman poet Virgil, travel together through the Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (purgatory) and eventually to Paradiso (heaven), the three realms beyond life in this world. They meet only people who had lived in this world who have now gone on to eternal rewards and punishments, some for purgation before, but with the assurance of, entering heaven. Dante’s voyage begins on Holy Thursday and ends on Wednesday of Easter week. As Easter Season 2022 comes to an end and we return to Ordinary Time the day after Pentecost, things are feeling more normal, as we yearn for more “normal,” even as we are reminded that we have not moved completely beyond the perils of our current times. It seemed appropriate to me to reflect for this second of the revived Letters from the Park on this passage, an image of one emerging from catastrophe, looking back on perils escaped, as he moves forward toward new vistas, some dark and fearsome, others offering hope, eventually leading to a final sublime state.
Dante’s image is an appropriate point of reflection, I believe, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2022. Descending upon us so swiftly, it was here before we really knew what was happening; not unlike a shipwreck, beginning with small but ominous signs that something was amiss, then suddenly affecting thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people, many of whom lost their lives. We mourn those who have passed and pray for their loved ones. We seem to have made it through the worst now, but it has not completely gone away. We are emerging like Dante’s character still looking back at perilous waters as we move more and more toward safety.
Risks, dangerous risks, remain. But risks there have always been, are, and will always be in this life. In the end, however, our lives are determined not by the dangers but by the courage and determination with which we face them. Not fate but hope is our lodestar. That is at the heart of Dante’s message: the serious risks and dangers of life do not have the final word—not for those who have faith, those who trust in the Spirit of God who guides us. Faith and salvation await us, lived in hope even during darkest days, not just spiritually but in the real circumstances of our lives—like a pandemic. And were it only a pandemic! So many other fearsome realities continue to beset us: a war of aggression, thought impossible in our day and time; senseless shootings; continued polarization and political rancor.
The Divine Comedy was written fifty years before the Black Plague wiped out one-third to one-half the population of Europe, a major event that challenged human beings to the extreme. But we endured, emerged from it, regained hope, faith and determination, just as we are doing in the face of the challenges we are having to face. The pandemic preoccupied us for over two years. We have an opportunity to regain a larger perspective now—not only that there are other terrible challenges in front of us, like war abroad and random violence at home, but also because there is much that is hopeful in front of us, if we only recover our vision for the hopefulness that having a future is. And we do have a future, one that can be better than the past, even if we must continue to endure negative challenges as we pursue positive progress. What will make all the difference, I believe, is that we come to realize and embrace the fact that history and the future are not just things that happen, they are things that people make happen. It is through the quality of how we live our lives and embrace values and initiatives that will make our world and the future better than past events that have darkened our lives that will make the difference, if we commit ourselves to living those values and carrying those initiatives out.
Another favorite author whose writings are filled with great wisdom, who has offered much hope and given much strength to generations of Christian believers is St. Augustine of Hippo. Something he said gave me perspective for what I wanted to say in this letter, which is that however challenging these past years have been, and the present seems to be, through faith we will experience a resilience that we otherwise might not have dreamed we had; an ability to heal from the wounds the past few years have inflicted on us and shape our present and our future in ways that will allow us to move beyond the challenges toward something stable, satisfying and hopeful; something ultimately sublime. As Augustine says:
“Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: such as we are, such are the times.”
St. Augustine, Sermon 80:8
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly Presents Charter
At evening vespers on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, St. Mary’s welcomed Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight, Patrick Kelly, and Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and also the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights, at a special charter ceremony inaugurating the Blessed Michael McGivney Council of the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s. The development of the Council is notable as it is established at the very seminary from which Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, graduated in 1877.
The ceremony took place in St. Mary’s Chapel where a portrait of Fr. McGivney and a relic were placed in honor with flanking candles. Archbishop Lori presided at the Evening Prayer and preached the homily. In addition to Supreme Knight Kelly, Knights of Columbus State attended along with Very Reverend Daniel Moore, Acting Provincial of the Society of Saint Sulpice, United States Province.
The service was followed by a celebratory dinner and additional addresses, including a speech by the first Grand Knight of the new Council, Mr. Michael Schultz, Second-Year Seminarian from the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Knights of Columbus video summary of the event
Charter presentation during Evening Vespers.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly speaks to the congregation.
(In the center) Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, (to the immediate left) Mr. Patrick E. Kelly, Supreme Knight, (next left) Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S., President-Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University. (To the right of Archbishop Lori) Mr. Michael L. Schultz, 2nd Year Seminarian of the Archdiocese of Louisivlle. (Remainder) The faculty and student members of the new Council.
Acting Provincial of the United States Province of the Society of Saint Sulpice, Very Rev. Daniel Moore, P.S.S., speaks at the dinner with fond memories of his membership in the Knights.
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.
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.
ST. MARY’S SEMINARY & UNIVERSITY
invites you to a piano recital by
Rev. Paul Maillet, P.S.S.
Bach: Selected Chorale Preludes
Schubert: Sonata in A Major, D. 664
Rachmaninov: Moments Musicaux, Op. 16
Sunday, November 14, 2021 • 3:00 pm
St. Mary’s Chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary & University
Light reception to follow
Free and open to the public, but we encourage you to RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before discerning a call to the priesthood, Paul Maillet received critical acclaim and international recognition for his performances with orchestra and in recital. He studied under full scholarship with Cécile Genhart at the Eastman School of Music. An alumnus of the Peabody Conservatory, he studied with Leon Fleisher and received the prestigious Artist’s Diploma.
“Maillet remains a fluent technician who boasts a particularly lovely quality of sound and who excels in subtlety of voicing. Most of all he has something to say, feelings to express and thoughts to communicate….Maillet’s playing is about his spirit, about his beliefs, about his experience of life…”
The Boston Globe
“One of the best of the many brilliant students who have emerged from Leon Fleisher’s studio. He’s a pianist with an abundance of technique, a beautiful tone, and a deep streak of poetry.”
The Baltimore Sun
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:
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.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University Hosts Part III of “The McGivney Series” in Honor of Blessed Fr. Michael J. McGivney, Class of 1877
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:
- What are the “qualities” of Blessed Michael McGivney exhibited in his priesthood?
- 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?
- Finally, what should we be doing in seminaries to develop these kind of priests: priests in the “model” of Michael McGivney?
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:
- 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.
- To protect seminarians from predators, especially those who seek access through association with the seminary as faculty, staff, recruiters, or board members.
- 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/.
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
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.