Rev. Steven L. Payne, O.C.D., Ph.D. 2000, was installed on October 15, 2019, as the Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Endowed Professor during a ceremony held in McMahon Hall.
The Carmelite chair is one of two that have been committed thus far to the School of Theology and Religious Studies (TRS) as part of Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University. The professorship, as well as a new Center for Carmelite Studies, was made possible through a $5 million gift from the Carmelite Province.
“The culmination of this endowed chair and center was the result of more than 10 years of imagining the possible,” said Very Rev. Mark Morozowich, dean of TRS. “Much like the Carmelite faith, with its emphasis on meditation and deep, contemplative thought, realizing this took great vision and even greater patience.”
Provost Aaron Dominguez said endowed professorships help attract top scholars and support research at the University.
“The value of these positions goes beyond the money invested in them. The returns are made permanent by the spreading of knowledge and the enabling of discovery, which in turn attract both more students,” he said.
University President John Garvey said he was delighted to welcome Fr. Payne back to campus in his new role, adding Fr. Paynes’ extensive list of publications and other work establishes him as the authority on the Carmelite tradition.
The goal of both Payne’s new role, and the Center, will be to promote academic studies and research in the Carmelite tradition.
“We will offer academic guidance and scholarship funding for doctoral students who wish to write dissertations in the field of Carmelite studies. We will organize public lectures, seminars, and workshops, as well as interdisciplinary conferences on topics of shared interest with other academic centers, both within and beyond Catholic University,” he said.
Fr. Payne said the Center has begun setting up an office, recruiting staff, and lining up speakers.
“Already we have arranged to offer a Carmelite course next semester, with many more to follow. The Advisory Board is working on a plan for graduate scholarships in Carmelite Studies,” he continued. “I am hoping that, before Christmas, we will have a fully functioning website and various materials available, presenting the new Center and explaining its activities.
“I want to say how honored, grateful, and, frankly, daunted I am, as the new chair, to be entrusted with the great task of helping the Carmelites and Catholic University bring this Center to birth.”