Georgetown Jesuit comes to Santa Clara
THE SANTA CLARA
April 14, 2016
A new leader will take the helm of Santa Clara’s prestigious Jesuit School of Theology at the beginning of next academic year.
Kevin O’Brien, S.J. the current vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University, will take over as dean of JST starting August 1, 2016.
Many anticipate that O’Brien will work to expand the JST’s influence and mission to the main campus of Santa Clara.
William Dohar, professor of history and spirituality, expanded upon the roles O’Brien will fulfill at JST, as well as challenges he will face.
“Like Tom Massaro before him, Dean O’Brien will preside over a diverse and international community of graduate students in their theological and pastoral formation,” Dohar said.
“One of his challenges will be to continue to build bridges between JST’s programs of study with theology and Religious Studies on the main campus in Santa Clara.”
O’Brien has a background in theology, philosophy and law. He is the author of the award winning book, “The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life.”
He also serves on the board of trustees at Marquette University and has served as a commentator on MSNBC, covering the papal visit and various news events of Pope Francis. O’Brien has also spent significant time with the Jesuit Refugee Service, working in immigration detention centers in Los Angeles and on the Arizona-Mexico border.
“Such experiences are important to me because theology must be lived and put in service of those most in need,” he concluded.
At Georgetown, O’Brien was tasked with promoting the school’s Catholic and Jesuit educational and spiritual tradition. In effect, he led the largest campus ministry program in the country.
He will continue this role, along with many others, in his new position at JST.
“During Fr. O’Brien’s visit to the Jesuit School, many were impressed with his vision for the School as an international theologate taking an active part in interreligious dialogue,” said Alison Benders, associate dean of JST. “We are looking forward to his pastoral style of leadership as we continue our focus on the transformative study of theology within a cultural and social context.”
O’Brien is excited about his upcoming role and is enthusiastic about the university’s dedication to diversity and justice.
“With its immersion in diverse cultures, its commitment to a faith that does justice and its engagement with other religious traditions, JST offers a distinctive service to the Church,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien also elaborated upon his objectives as the school’s new dean.
“As the Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology, I hope to support our esteemed faculty in forming future leaders and ministers in the Church and the world,” he said. “I am committed as Dean to helping students rely on technology to help the Church speak to the world, and the world speak to the Church.”
Santa Clara’s JST is one of only two Jesuit-operated schools of theology in the United States. Located in Berkeley, the school provides seven graduate-level degrees as it trains Jesuits, religious, ordained and lay students from across the United States and the globe.
O’Brien will be replacing Rev. Thomas Massaro, S.J. who has served as the dean of JST since 2012.
Massaro played an instrumental role in developing the curriculum of JST, making it more diverse, and working to integrate the school with Santa Clara, according to Dohar.
“Tom Massaro has led JST community effectively, with humor, genuine mentorship, and affability,” Dohar said. “He’s been a very accessible dean, to all members of the school, and a source of encouragement and scholarly inspiration for many of us.”
Father Massaro served as dean for four years. In the fall, he will return to teaching moral theology at JST.
While many are excited to have O’Brien come to Santa Clara, the Georgetown community will miss his presence at their own campus.
“I hope that JST can also help support the university as a whole deepen its own identity as a Jesuit and Catholic university,” O’Brien said.
Fr. James Martin, S.J. notable Jesuit, author and public intellectual who gave Santa Clara’s undergraduate commencement address last year, expressed his thoughts on the selection to his facebook followers.
“Congratulations to my friend Kevin O’Brien, SJ,” he said. “Georgetown’s loss (and it is a big loss) is JST’s gain (and it is a big gain). Kevin is one of the most dedicated, hardworking and talented Jesuits I know.”
Contact Krista Clawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.