St. Mary's Seminary & University

First Doctor of Ministry Degrees Awarded

One of the highlights of the 2023 graduation at St. Mary’s Seminary & University was the awarding of the first-ever Doctor of Ministry degrees at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. The milestone event comes through the completion of studies and awarding of degrees to Allison Raye Harmon and Joyce E. Vance.

Dr. Allison Harmon’s thesis was titled “Reading Joseph in Community: Identity Matters.” Dr. Joyce Vance’s thesis was “Out of the Mouths of Babes: Revitalizing Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church’s Children’s Ministry.”

Rev. Jason Poling is the Director of the D.Min. program. The program is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Learn more about the Doctor of Ministry program on the St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute pages.

The 2023 Commencement Exercises

On Thursday, May 11, 2023 St. Mary’s Seminary & University held its 2023 Commencement for graduates of  St. Mary’s School of Theology (and the Ecclesiastical Faculty) and St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. The Commencement Speaker and Recipient of an Honorary Degree was Mary Pat Seurkamp, Ph.D., President Emerita of Notre Dame of Maryland University.

For full size images of the class pictures in this article, use these links:

School of Theology and Ecclesiastical Faculty

Twelve students were awarded degrees from the School of Theology:

Master of Arts in Theology
  • Mark Henry Donohue
  • Jacob Gindhart
  • Nicholas Mwai
  • Peter Vincent Myers
  • Thomas Whiteford
Ordinand Graduates at the 2023 Commencement Exercises-thumbnail. Click for full-sized photo.
Ordinand Graduates at the 2023 Commencement Exercises.
Master of Divinity
  • Michael Joseph Boris
  • Javier Anotnio Fuentes Cabrera
  • Jeffrey Donovan 
  • Onyedikachukwu Chibundu John Enemuo
  • Paul Kongnyuy
  • Sampson Onyeaso Onwumere
  • David Wang

Vatican/Papal Symbol of the keys.In 1822, Pope Pius VII established the seminary the country’s first ecclesiastical (pontifical) faculty with the right to grant degrees in the name of the Holy See. The seminary continues to offer the pontifical STB (Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology) and STL (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) degrees for all qualified students. The 2023 degree recipients of the ecclesiastical faculty were:

Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB)
All School of Theology Graduates (those receiving the M.A. and M.Div degrees as well as the STB and STL degrees) at the 2023 Commencement Exercises.
All School of Theology Graduates (those receiving the M.A. and M.Div degrees as well as the STB and STL degrees) at the 2023 Commencement Exercises.
  • Michael Joseph Boris
  • Javier Anotnio Fuentes Cabrera
  • Jeffrey Donovan 
  • Onyedikachukwu Chibundu John Enemuo
  • Paul Kongnyuy
  • Nicholas Mwai
  • Sampson Onyeaso Onwumere
  • David Wang
Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)
  • Joseph N. Franz
  • Emily Hicks
  • Banadzem Francline Javlon
  • Andrew Lacovara
  • Mbomnda Tekam Patrick
  • Kegham Jude Thaddeus Sango
  • James Michael Starke

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute

St. Mary's Ecumenical Institute Graduates at the 2023 Commencement Exercises-thumbnail.
St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute Graduates at the 2023 Commencement Exercises, flanked by Dean Brent Laytham, Ph.D. and Associate Dean Rebecca Hancock, Ph.D.

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute conferred master’s degrees on 14 students. Additionally, one individual received the graduate certificate of advanced studies:

Master of Arts in Theology
  • D. Karen Hill Douglass
  • Jerry Donyel Edmonds
  • Julian Fuller (recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theological Studies)
  • Byron Lane Huffman
  • Devron R. McCleod
  • Samuel Gatua Muiruri
  • Gwendolyn Mullen
  • Mary Jo Wiese (recipient of the Robert F. Leavitt Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theological Studies)
  • Galen Andrew Zook
Master of Arts in Christian Ministries
  • Marc Anthony Bowman
  • Kenneth Joseph Goedeke, Jr. (recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Study and Practice of Ministry)
  • Michele Maher Hunter
  • Nkolika Genevieve Jackson
  • Jennifer D. Minor (recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Study and Practice of Ministry)
Certificate of Advanced Studies in Theology
  • Matthew C. Fuhrman

One of the highlights of this year’s graduation was the awarding of the first-ever Doctor of Ministry degrees at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. The two recipients with the titles of their theses are:

Doctor of Ministry
  • Allison Raye Harmon (thesis: Reading Joseph in Community: Identity Matters)
  • Joyce E. Vance (thesis: “Out of the Mouths of Babes:” Revitalizing Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church’s Children’s Ministry)
Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp addresses graduates at the 2023 Commencement Exercises.
Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp addresses graduates at the 2023 Commencement Exercises.

Commencement Speaker/Honorary Degree

The 2023 Commencement Speaker was Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp, President Emerita of Notre Dame of Maryland University and past member of the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees. She was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

Members of the St. Mary’s community have an impact far beyond our Baltimore location. These are some of the latest examples.

Dr. Dennis Castillo

Dr. Dennis Castillo gave a paper in Philadelphia on January 7 at the American Catholic Historical Association. The paper was titled “A Tale of Two Earthquakes: The Knights of Malta and Disaster Relief in 1783 and 1908.”

Fr. Innocent Smith, O.P.

Fr. Innocent Smith gave a presentation titled “Bible Missals and the Franciscan Liturgy” at the Issues in Medieval Liturgy Seminar, North American Academy of Liturgy, Toronto, January 2–5, 2023. He will be leading an intellectual retreat for college students sponsored by the Thomistic Institute in Washington, DC on January 13–15 titled “The Mystery of the Liturgy.”

Dr. Paul Seaton

Over the Christmas break, Dr. Paul Seaton’s activity included the following:

  • His annotated anthology of Pierre Manent’s writings on the religion of Humanity, The Religion of Humanity: The Illusion of Our Times (St. Augustine Press), appeared.
  • A review essay on Adrian Vermeuele’s Common Good Constitutionalism (“Classical Historicism?”) was included in “the best of 2022” list at Law & Liberty.
  • An essay, “Benedict XVI and the Drama of European Culture,” was published January 5 at Law & Liberty.
  • He was invited to guest lecture on Benedict XVI in a course devoted to his thought at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Dr. James Starke

Dr. James Starke presented on “Liturgy as Mystery” at the North American Academy of Liturgy’s annual meeting, which was held January 2–4, 2023 in Toronto, Canada. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions and attended the first of the Board’s biannual meetings for 2023 in Houston, TX on January 24–27.

Msgr. Fredrik Hansen, (cand.)

Msgr. Fredrik Hansen’s article “Papal Legates and the Jurisdiction of Diocesan Bishops” was published in The Jurist—Studies in Church Law and Ministry, the journal of the CUA School of Canon Law (volume 78/2 [2022]: 477–99). The article examines the relationship between diocesan bishops and papal legates in relation to the power of jurisdiction (potestas regiminis), considering both the historical development of this relationship and current legislation based in the Second Vatican Council and the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Dr. Gorman's book published in Portuguese.Dr. Michael Gorman

Dr. Michael Gorman’s book Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters (2nd ed.) has been published in Portuguese translation as O Apóstolo do Senhor Crucificado.

Ms. Emily Hicks

Ms. Emily Hicks and St. Mary’s are featured in a photo on the website of ARECONF (; scroll down), the international Applied Research in Education Conference, held in Rome, at which she presented a paper in May of last year.

St. Mary’s own Dr. Bill Scalia has just published his latest book of poetry, titled Signal / Noise.

Dr. Scalia describes the book in his own words: “Signal / Noise concerns our search for meaning amid the noise that is constituent of human experience. Part I, ‘Noise,’ examines the background–and foreground–radiant static of human experience, originating (perhaps) in the Fall. Part II, ‘Signal,’ surfaces hope, an inborn drive for meaningful existence. Part III, ‘Return,’ resolves that search at its genesis and terminus: the idea of home. The controlling themes of Signal / Noise are faith, experience, and the vagaries of God.”

Signal / Noise is available for purchase from:

Dr. Scalia teaches writing, rhetoric, and literature at St. Mary’s and has published widely in literature and film. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Louisiana State University.

Dear Seminarians, Faculty Members, Staff and all Members of the St. Mary’s Community,

We awoke on the last day of 2022 to learn with sadness of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, an important and great figure in the life of the Church and of the world, at the age of 95. We had known over his last few days that his health was failing, so this was not a surprise but nevertheless represents a very sad and also momentous event. Pope Benedict was in many ways a source of stability, consolation and strength in troubling times throughout his life. As a child he was subjected to the perversion of German society, his beloved homeland, by the tyranny of Adolph Hitler and the horrors of Nazism. Through the grace of a faithful Catholic family he grew up to become a holy and outstanding priest, theologian, teacher, curial official and eventually Pope. He was an important figure during the Second Vatican Council and a bulwark of doctrinal stability and fidelity thereafter, a moderating and transitional figure as our Holy Father during the ongoing post-Vatican II debates over the place of our faith in the world today, and in the lives of Catholics. He had the grace to recognize when his health was not adequate to carry the burdens of the office entrusted to him, and so be became the first Pope in 600 years to relinquish his office in favor of someone who could better sustain the important role of the Roman Pontiff in tumultuous times. Since 2013 he has continued his faithful service to God and to the Church as Emeritus Pope under Pope Francis. Let us give thanks for the life and service of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, and as he has passed through the gates of death let us keep his legacy of sound theology and faithful service to God and the Church alive on our own fidelity and service in the vocations that have been given to us by God. Let us keep Pope Benedict, his family, and the Church in our prayers in a special way at this time.

We will observe the traditional practices of mourning for a deceased Pope at St. Mary’s in the coming days.

May he rest in peace and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Rev. Phillip J. Brown, P.S.S.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University

On October 21, Fr. Paul Maillet, St. Mary’s Director of Spiritual Life, presented a lecture-recital at The Schubert Club of Fairfield County in Connecticut. His program highlighted the differences and contexts of “Six Moments Musicaux” by both Schubert and Rachmaninoff.

As Fr. Maillet notes, “‘Moments musicaux’ . . . the name suggests evocative, improvisatory, and in some cases fleeting musical miniatures, as opposed to long, thought-out, and highly structured compositions. Two famous composers wrote sets of six moments musicaux: the early romantic, Franz Schubert and the late romantic, Sergei Rachmaninoff. Thus, the two sets can be seen as sort of “musical bookends” marking the span of nineteenth-century romantic piano literature.”

The Schubert Club recorded the event and uploaded it to YouTube.

From June 8-10, 2023, St. Mary’s Seminary & University will host a conference titled “The Primacy of God in a Secular Age: On the Theological Virtue of Faith.” The conference is sponsored by The Sacra Doctrina Project in partnership with SMSU.

Featured Speakers will be:

The conference is currently requesting papers. Those interested should submit a 300-word abstract proposal via The Sacra Doctrina Project website. Priority consideration will be given to proposals received by December 15, 2022; proposals will also be accepted through January 1, 2023.

For more information, visit:

The National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors (NCDVD) held their annual convention in Baltimore from September 2-9 at the Hilton Inner Harbor, next to Camden Yards. To thank the participants for visiting Baltimore and to show them the wonderful formation opportunities at St. Mary’s Seminary & University, a special “Night at the Parks” was held on September 6.

Approximately 100 vocation directors came to Roland Park from the hotel. The evening began with Vespers in St. Mary’s Chapel; Archbishop William E. Lori, presided. Then, they joined the seminary community for an Orioles-themed “tailgate” dinner in the refectory. The meal was preceded by a short video greeting from none other than Cal Ripken himself. September 6 marked the 27th anniversary of the night Cal broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak.

Seminarians offered brief tours to those interested in seeing the seminary’s renovated living spaces.

The evening continued with transportation from Roland Park to Oriole Park where the vocation directors saw an Orioles home game, accompanied by St. Mary’s President-Rector, Fr. Philip Brown, P.S.S., and a number of faculty and seminarians.

The vocation directors were mightily impressed with the creativity and depth of St. Mary’s hospitality.

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.

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Full Text:

Letters from the Park

Letter #2

May 2022
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
Canto 1:22-27

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

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