Emeriti Faculty

Fr. Hilary Martin - Biography

Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey
Ordination: June 10, 1955, St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco

Present Ministry: Professor Emeritus, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; visiting professor, Yarra Theological Union and Catholic Theological College, Melbourne, Australia.

Past Service: acting dean, Graduate Theological Union; professor, St. Albert's Priory, Oakland; Regent of Studies, Western Dominican Province; in residence, St. Mary Magdalene's Parish, Berkeley; scholar among aboriginal communities in Australia.

"My profession of solemn vows and ordination to the priesthood completed a phase in my life and opened up a door on something other. I was sent to England to complete my studies at Oxford.

I could not fail to notice rumblings of dissent to the standard Church line, both theological and political. Dissent in the Church was genteelly suppressed – editors too outspoken were removed from their magazines, teachers were sent to obscure priories, books and articles which failed to pass the censors were suppressed, some experimental apostolates closed down.

There was a real fear that communism and anti-religious socialism might succeed in getting control of the weak post-war democracies of Western Europe as they had already done in Eastern Europe with such devastating effect.

The rumblings of theological unrest in Europe, however, were not much heard as yet in California, but they were not long in coming. Pope John XXIII called a Council, Vatican II. Almost at once, reports about the Council's work generated a sense that this was a key moment in the history of the Christian Churches, not only the Roman Catholic Church.

The Graduate Theological Union was formed in 1964 with the Dominican School as the first Catholic School to join. The unifying of the various faculties – without homogenizing them – was the work of the 60's and 70's. Throughout all the activity, it was a joy to have the continuous attention, concern and support of Bishop Cummins. My attention turned to interreligious studies as I completed my doctorate at UCLA.

By the 1980's, the GTU had become a great meeting place for scholars and professors from everywhere. It was a kind of pylon anchoring spans to form bridges to other parts of the world. Beginning in 1982, I began to make a series of trips to Australia's Northern Territory to stay with five aboriginal communities who live together at Wadeye.

Collectively that community became a mentor for me of how to live on the land and with a tribal form of life. Although my time there was more missionary, the Catholic community with its different cultural ways of doing things, even of approaching our religion, was important to me. Even to the point of learning what to pray for.

I wanted to examine the Church's past to find guidelines for its future. The generation of the present that must find consensus so the Faith can flourish in all corners of our mixed race and multi-cultured world. The outpouring of celebration at the funeral of Pope John Paul II has shown us all how far we have traveled along the road as Pope Benedict XVI looks nervously down that path into the future.

In the new millennium the Church looks both backward and forward. It looks backward to the 1950's, the 1920's and the 1800's and looks forward into an unsettled world. Finding consensus will be more difficult now and more limited. In a pluralistic world it will be more difficult for people to find a culture where they can feel at home and the arena of consensus will be more limited." - Fr. Hilary Martin, OP