November 06, 2017
Carmelites Center gift presentation

Gift Will Establish Research Center for Carmelite Spirituality

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) The Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary has given The Catholic University of America School of Theology and Religious Studies (STRS) $5 million to establish an academic center that will conduct research and support the development of courses on the Carmelite charism of prayer and contemplation.

The gift marks the single largest donation in the history of STRS. It will fund the Center for Carmelite Studies, the Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Endowed Chair, annual scholarship stipends for three doctoral students, and an annual lecture series. It also will ensure “a permanent bond between the Carmelites and Catholic University,” says Very Rev. Mark Morozowich, dean of theology and religious studies.

“We believe that the mystical emphasis of the Carmelite tradition, focusing on prayer and contemplation, add depth to our theological endeavor,” says Father Morozowich. “This contemplative tradition invites people to deepen their encounter with God. The new center is going to be a dynamic place to invite all students to this  mystical theological tradition and to engage them at the highest academic level."

As part of its mission, the new center will develop programming and courses that will be open to both graduate and undergraduate students. Approximately 400 Carmelites in initial formation have studied at Catholic University since it was founded in 1887. Presently 15 are enrolled at the University.

“The new center will give us a presence on a large university campus, allowing our spirituality to be researched and to become better known,” says Very Rev. William J. Harry, O.Carm., prior provincial of the Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. “Students who do their doctoral studies through the center will teach at other universities and continue to spread our spirituality around the world.”  

The center, which is scheduled to open in fall 2018, will become the 30th research center at the University and the first for STRS. It will be the first research center sponsored by a religious order at Catholic University. The Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Endowed Chair will be the ninth endowed chair in STRS and the 25th universitywide.

“Throughout our history, Catholic University has had a distinctive relationship with many religious orders in the United States,” said John Garvey, University President. “We anticipate that this permanent connection to the Carmelite Order is the beginning of a new chapter in our University’s mission to preserve the theological charisms of consecrated and religious in America.”

The center will host the Roland Murphy Annual Lecture Series named in honor of the Carmelite priest, biblical scholar, and alumnus who taught at the University for more than 25 years. The late Father Murphy served as a collaborator on the New American Bible and co-editor of both the Jerome Biblical Commentary and the (New) Jerome Biblical Commentary.

The Carmelites of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, in allegiance to Jesus Christ, live in a prophetic and contemplative stance of prayer, common life, and service. The province, which is based in Darien, Ill., has 187 members in established ministries in Canada, the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, and Perú. The province maintains eight secondary schools, three retreat houses, 22 parishes, five houses of formation, and various residences for retired members or specialized ministry.

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