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Marianist Province of U.S. gives $1.5 million to help develop leaders in Catholic K-12 education

Reinbolt Hall, future home of the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Mary's University

Reinbolt Hall, future home of the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Mary’s University

The Marianist Province of the United States has made a $1.5 million pledge toward an endowment of the Marianist Chair in Catholic Education Leadership, as part of the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Mary’s University.

The Rev. Martin Solma, S.M., Provincial of the Marianist Province and St. Mary’s Chancellor, announced the gift to the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees last week.

St. Mary’s will provide a match of at least $1 million through the Defining Moment campaign. The resulting $2.5 million endowment will be sufficient to recruit and retain an experienced Catholic education academic. The Chair holder’s responsibilities will include development and supervision of a master’s degree in Catholic Education Leadership, intended to create future leaders in Catholic grade school and high school education in San Antonio and the Southwest.

“In the geographic region that encompasses the heart of the Hispanic Church, the Society of Mary will continue to fulfill its historic role of educating Catholic boys and girls through the establishment of this Chair,” said St. Mary’s President Thomas Mengler, J.D. “This generous gift will enable us to find a distinguished faculty member who will lead our master’s program and develop future K-12 educators.”

Because Catholic education administrative leadership requires, among other things, an understanding of finance, law, organizational management, as well as expertise in education theory and practice, Catholic theology, and Catholic social teaching, this master’s degree will be interdisciplinary and require students to take coursework that draws on several disciplines located in the St. Mary’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Greehey School of Business, and the Center for Catholic Studies.

“It’s our hope and desire that St. Mary’s will help ensure quality leadership in Catholic education far into the future,” Solma said. “This is our Defining Moment and a defining challenge for St. Mary’s.”

More about the Center for Catholic Studies
Establishment of the Center for Catholic Studies is a key priority in the University’s Gateway strategic plan, adopted by the Board of Trustees in April 2013. The Center will have four principal features in serving students, faculty and staff; the Archdiocese of San Antonio; the Southwest; and the nation:

  • Promote the study and understanding of Catholic intellectual and social thought, as well as Marianist spirituality
  • Develop courses in Catholic Studies
  • Serve as a spiritual gateway for our community
  • Assist in the formation of faith for faculty, staff and students

The Center will explore Catholic and Marianist views on the most pressing social policy issues. It also will examine the Catholic Church in society and culture, including issues related to the Church’s presence in the Southwest and the growing nationwide Hispanic presence in the Church and other Christian denominations.

St. Mary’s will play a lead role in advancing Catholic studies through recruitment of distinguished faculty in Catholic philosophy, theology, and other central areas of Catholic studies and culture. The University already has appointed faculty members to an endowed Chair in Human Dignity and an endowed Chair in Catholic Philosophy. The Beirne Director for the Center will be announced this summer.

The Center will serve the region as a forum for Catholic intellectual thought, similar to the Cushwa Center at the University of Notre Dame. Offerings may include:

  • Lectures, including the expanded Catholic Intellectual Tradition lecture series for parishes, high schools and Catholic civic organizations
  • A dynamic Internet presence that engages the Catholic academic community as well as the broader Catholic community
  • An annual academic conference and publication of papers
  • Visiting scholars in residence
  • Course relief for St. Mary’s affiliated faculty to undertake Catholic Studies research projects
  • Travel and research stipends for St. Mary’s faculty to attend relevant conferences and workshops or undertake research
  • Escobedo Lecture Series examining the Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition through lectures given to Texas parishes, schools and other events

In addition, St. Mary’s has hosted the archdiocesan Assembly since 2015, welcoming 4,000 archdiocesan members from 17 counties. The University also is partnering with the Society of Mary for the U.S. Province and the Archdiocese of San Antonio to transform Holy Rosary Parish into a dynamic parish with programs for youths and young adults.

St. Mary’s has a long history of involving its students, faculty and staff in service and civic engagement efforts, and the Center will continue this tradition.