On Friday, September 2 the Very Reverend John Kartje, Rector/President of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary announced the winners of the 2016 Monsignor John Canary Theological Enrichment Fund grants. Established by former Mundelein rector Monsignor John Canary, the fund provides financial assistance to seminary faculty and students to attend conferences or complete research which will serve to advance the quality of theological education at Mundelein. This year’s grant recipients are Michael Lewis and Ivan Montelongo from the Diocese of El Paso, TX and Michael Brungardt from the Diocese of Wichita, KS.
Michael Lewis and Ivan Montelongo
Michael Lewis and Ivan Montelongo identified the need to better understand the rich cultural and religious history of their home diocese of El Paso, Texas. It is known that the earliest mission churches were established there by Spanish friars as early as 1659, but serious scholarship about these churches, including their daily activities, sacramental life, relationships with indigenous peoples and the experience of the earliest missionaries, remains limited to anecdotal and later English-language sources. Michael and Ivan plan to explore various Spanish primary sources about the development of Catholic Texas located in the Archivo General de la Nación in México City, Archivos Históricos del Arzobispado de Durango in Durango, Mexico, and the Catholic Archives of Texas in Austin. By better understanding how the priestly ministry of their predecessors from centuries ago connects with the future ministry of the seminarians, Michael and Ivan hope to bring rich and fulfilling insights to their theological formation at Mundelein and, eventually, to their service as priests in the Diocese of El Paso.
While completing his pastoral internship semester at St. Anne’s parish in Wichita, KS during the 2016 spring semester, Michael Brungardt noticed that most of his pastoral ministry was being spent in direct service to families in various contexts. The priest, he noted, is called to minister to all families – large or small, healthy or broken, families in irregular situations, and single-parent households. In the seminary, Michael argues, seminarians can become “increasingly dogmatic, doctrinal, and legalistic, forgetting that the greatest concerns they will encounter in their lives of ministry are not of a dogmatic, doctrinal, or even liturgical nature.” The life of the priest today is filled, instead, with the real concerns and struggles of actual people and families in any number of situations. Michael plans to focus his research on developing structures to put into place at the seminary level that will allow seminarians to develop the skills that will be most helpful to them in their priestly ministry.
Please keep these men in your prayers as they begin their research.
Previous award winners include Fr. Edward Looney (2014) and Fr. Ray Webb (2015).