Dean's Corner

Ad Extra - Vol. 1, n. 1: October 2011

Dean's Corner

October 2011

by C. J. Renz, OP

Around here at DSPT, if you use the term ad extra (from the Latin, “towards the outside” or “at the extremity”) folks would likely imagine that you are about to launch off on a discussion concerning the “missionary expression” of the inner life (ad intra) of the Trinity – the revelation of the God to humanity through the Incarnation, and its ongoing expression through the gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. By extension, the missionary activity continues ad extra (or as Vatican II put it, ad gentes) to the extent that the Gospel is brought into the world, the market place, and the local community.

As I thought about the launch of these regular updates from the Office of the Academic Dean, I became captivated by the implications this phrase for our own mission here at DSPT. In providing little tidbits about what individual members of the DSPT Faculty are doing, it is our hope to take a peek into their own view towards the outside. The title for this newsletter also provides a kind of nod to our scholarly newsletter Ad Gentes.

DSPT Dean's Corner - Calvin and HobbesInformation will come from all of our professors, that is to say both Adjunct and Regular Faculty. While we typically do not see much of our Adjuncts, they are vital to the life and mission of the School – both ad intra and ad extra. I think you will find they are also an energetic and creative lot!

If the response I received from my first “call for news” for this premier issue of Ad Extra is any indication, I believe that we will truly enjoy these updates. I expect we will be given a privileged look ad intra at the interior motivations which bring forth those topics our faculty bring to classroom discussions.

So, let's see what's out there . . .

Faculty Updates

As you may know, DSPT has two affiliate centers. Having first joined DSPT more than twenty-five years ago, the Institute of Salesian Sprituality (ISS) is our oldest affiliate. Through those Salesian women and men who join ISS for sabbatical study, the Institute enhances our DSPT community with a rich international diversity. Currently, the ISS is busy with preparations for the bicentennial celebration in 2015 of the birth of the community's founder, Don Bosco. You can read more about these preparations in their October newsletter pdf

DSPT is blest to have three Salesians on Faculty – Fr. Joe Boenzi, SDB, who is a full-time member; Fr. John Roche, SDB, the new director of ISS, whose induction as director took place last week, and Fr. Arthur Lenti, SDB, resident historian and expert on Don Bosco. The culmination of a lifetime of work by Fr. Lenti on Don Bosco has been the recent publication of the seventh and final volume in the series, Don Bosco: History and Spirit xlink. In gratitude for his contributions to the Church on Don Bosco, DSPT awarded Fr. Lenti an honorary doctorate in January 2008. We congratulate Fr. Lenti on this monumental achievement and contribution to the Salesian congregation and the Church.

Our second affiliate is the Catherine of Siena Institute CSI) siena.org, co-founded in 1997 by DSPT President, Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP. CIS seeks to bridge the gap between the Church's vision for the laity and the reality of the current evangelization and formation practices and structures in our parishes. After his departure from the Institute to become DSPT President, Fr. Sweeney was succeeded by Fr. Michael Fones, OP, who, in turn, has recently left there to serve as the Master of Students for the Western Dominican Province. He is also joining the DSPT Adjunct Faculty as Field Education Instructor. You can learn more about Fr. Mike at his DSPT web page. Given that this is his first semester with us, we invited Fr. Mike to offer some reflections on joining the DSPT community of scholars.

Our full-time (Regular) Faculty also have been quite busy during these days.

Be sure to check out the travel-log from Fr. Michael Dodds, OP who's been in Poland for the past few weeks giving lectures. In a recent e-mail I received from him, Fr. Michael noted that the “inaugural lecture” given at the Dominican College in Cracow had about 100 people in attendance, and went quite well. The College had translated the text of his lecture into Polish beforehand, so no translator was needed. Because all of the classes and public lecture in Kiev relied on consecutive interpretation, the experience was a bit more challenging – waiting for the interpretor after every few sentences. Nevertheless, the students were all eager with lots of questions and good conversation.

Given her ongoing work in Christian-Muslim dialog, Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC was quite occupied during September as the nation remembered the tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. Among her efforts was an interfaith panel sponsored by Newman Hall xlink, the Center for Islamic Studies xlink at the Graduate Theological Union, Zaytuna College xlink, and the Oakland Diocese xlink, entitled, "Conversations We Never Had After 9/11 pdf." The evening was the first coordinated interfaith event for University Campus Ministry Students in collaboration with DSPT and Zaytuna College. The Newman students plan to host future dialogues and interfaith programs so that, as one student noted, "we can learn about different religions without compromising our own beliefs. Islam and Catholicism teach similar messages and talking about our faith with people of other religions helps us to better understand our own." You can read more about Sr. Marianne's reflections on this event at her own webpage.

Through her work as organizer for the Diocese of Oakland Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Commission, Sr. Marianne also led a meeting for the Commission and parish representatives to learn about activities and future plans for ecumenical and interreligious programs. The Commission shared with the parish representatives the Diocesan plans for education in the Church's commitment to promote ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and collaboration. And then there was the workshop for fifteen participants of the New Directions Sabbatical Program xlink at JST on the topic of “Learning How to Listen, Compassionately,” on the ethical teachings and practices of non-violent communication. Be sure to check out two short summaries she has written, one on the life of Cardinal Newman, the other a summary of the meeting of the Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission.

Sr. Barbara Green, OP will be teaching two sessions on Old Testament for the School of Applied Theology xlink. As she noted, “What to do in four hours: such a big book, so little time? I have devised a genre called "Earthquake Insights," the idea being that once you have experienced (understood) the shaking of the earth, you can't go home "the same way" again but have to find a better route. The first two earthquakes involve the ethnicity of Israel and the nature of its early cult.”