Seminary visitations begin

Teams of visitors appointed by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education have begun visiting all U.S. Catholic seminaries to assess the intellectual, spiritual, and social formation of all priesthood candidates. While the names of visitors have not been officially released, unofficial accounts released in the press indicate that most are U.S. bishops and other North Americans who are already leaders in Catholic theological education. When the visits are complete, teams will issue confidential reports on each school.

The visitation teams have been given a 3,000-word set of instructions called the Instrumentum laboris, which includes one question asking if there is "evidence of homosexuality" at the seminary. For further information, please see our continuously updated list of newspaper articles about the seminary visitations, as well as the complete text of the Instrumentum laboris.

In Trust leadership transitions

In October, In Trust Inc. welcomed two new members to its board of directors and thanked two outgoing members for their years of service to the organization.


Diane T. Ashley was elected to a four-year term. Ashley is senior vice president and director of supplier diversity at Citigroup in New York, where her areas of responsibility include developing the corporation's business with companies owned by women, veterans, disabled people, and people of color. Previously she was an executive recruiter for Gould, McCoy and Chadick and the Hollins Group.

Ashley chairs the board of trustees of New York Theological Seminary in New York City. She is a graduate of Yale University, Boston University, and Rutgers University School of Law. 


The Rev. Carol E. Lytch was also elected to a four-year term. She is visiting scholar and researcher in residence at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Previously she spent six years on the Louisville staff of the Fund for Theological Education as coordinator of Lilly Endowment programs for strengthening congregational leadership. In this capacity she worked with 75 theological schools. Lytch is the author of Choosing Church: What Makes a Difference for Teens, and her research has focused on faith choices made by high school students.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Emory University, Lytch is an ordained minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The Rev. Anne MacDermaid resigned after serving on the board of In Trust Inc. for three years. An ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, she is chair of the board of management of Queen's Theological College in Kingston, Ontario, and supervises students preparing for ministry. MacDermaid spent 23 years on the staff of the archives of Queen's University, including 17 years as university archivist. Queen's Theological College is a constituent part of Queen's University.

The board also elected its officers: G. Douglass Lewis, chair; David Tiede, vice chair; Anne van den Berg, secretary; and Brian Stiller, treasurer.

Dr. Robert E. Cooley has retired after 10 years on the board of directors of In Trust Inc. and nine years as chair of the board. He was president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, from 1981 to 1997, where he oversaw the establishment of the school's Southeastern Campus in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Before moving to Gordon- Conwell, Cooley was professor of anthropology and religious studies and director of the Center for Archaeological Research at Southwest Missouri State University. His lifelong interest in biblical archaeology has taken him to the Middle East scores of times, often leading archaeological digs. Cooley is a graduate of Wheaton College and New York University.

Changes at the top


Dr. Philip A. Amerson has been named president of Garrett- Evangelical Theological Seminary, replacing Ted Campbell, who will return to teaching. Amerson will take office on June 1, 2006. Jacob C. Martinson, retired president of High Point University in North Carolina, will serve as interim president of Garrett from January through May 2006.

Amerson will leave the Claremont School of Theology, where he has been president since 2000. Before moving to the seminary in Claremont, California, he spent most of his career as a pastor, teacher, and consultant in Bloomington, Indiana.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is a United Methodist school adjacent to the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. It has about 300 full-time equivalent students. 


On September 30, the board of trustees of New Brunswick Theological Seminary elected the Rev.Gregg A. Mast as president effective January 1, 2006. A former trustee of the seminary, since 2002 he has been director of ministry services for the Reformed Church in America, coordinating support and development of ordained elders and deacons. Dr. Mast graduated from Hope College, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Drew University.

Dr. Mast replaces the Rev. Norman Kansfield, who was dismissed from the seminary earlier this year because he officiated at the June 2004 wedding of his daughter to another woman. In June 2005, two-thirds of the delegates to the denomination's annual meeting found Dr. Kansfield guilty of breaking his ordination vows, and his ordination was suspended. An appeal is possible at the summer 2006 denominational meeting.

Dr. Edwin G. Mulder, general secretary emeritus of the Reformed Church in America, has been serving as interim president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. The school, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is one of two seminaries affiliated with the denomination.

In August, Father Charles Kosanke was appointed rector of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. In October Father Kosanke was named a monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI.


Msgr. Kosanke was ordained a priest in the archdiocese of Detroit in 1985. He is a graduate of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, St. John Provincial Seminary, and the Gregorian University in Rome. Previously dean of administration and advancement at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, he has most recently served as pastor of Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Clawson, Michigan.

SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary was founded in 1885 to serve Polish immigrant candidates to the priesthood, and 39 of its current students were born in Poland. Msgr. Kosanke, a Polish-American, is a descendant of 19th-century immigrants from Gdansk. 


In July, Sulpician Father Shayne Craig was appointed to a three-year term as rector of St. Joseph's Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta. He replaced Father Kevin Beach, who since 2004 had been serving as interim rector following the death of the former rector, Father Louis-Paul Gauvreau. Father Craig heard the news of his appointment in Rome, where he was completing a license in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University. From 2002 to 2005 he served as vice-rector of St. Joseph's Seminary.

A native of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Father Craig attended St. Joseph's and was ordained in 1992. In 1998 he joined the Sulpician Fathers, a community of priests that operates seminaries throughout the world.

St. Joseph's Seminary has 39 seminarians from western Canadian dioceses.

Fourth-year seminarian is also defensive tackle

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Ben Kessler, 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, is one of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's leading tackles. He plays for the University of St. Thomas. 


The fourth-year undergraduate is a student at St. John Vianney Seminary, which is located on St. Thomas's campus, and next year he plans to take his 4.0 grade point average to Rome for theological studies. Kessler calls himself a "tough person" and doesn't mind the long hours of training both on and off the field.

What does he find difficult about being a seminarian and college athlete? Hearing his teammates take the Lord's name in vain. And breaking up with his Lutheran girlfriend.

Long-time Trinity Western president retires

Dr. Neil Snider has announced that he will step down in July 2006 after 32 years as president of Trinity Western University.

A November 2005 letter from the board of governors posted on the school's Web site indicated that he might be given a "role of honor" after his retirement. It further explained that a sexual harassment complaint against Snider had been resolved, with the president delivering an apology to the complainant. The university also agreed to make unspecified changes to its policies and procedures in order to address issues cited in the complaint. After the complaint was filed, Snider took a leave of absence to allow a committee of enquiry to do its work; he will continue his extended leave.

During Snider's tenure, Trinity Western University's size increased from 340 to 3,500 students. It made headlines in 1996 when the British Columbia College of Teachers ruled that the university's education program graduates were not eligible for teacher certification because the school discriminated against homosexuals. Five years of litigation led to a 2001 decision in the university's favor by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The university includes a 500- student graduate school of theological studies called the Associated Canadian Theological Schools, or ACTS Seminaries. ACTS is affiliated with, and issues joint degrees with, six denominational theological schools: Canadian Baptist Seminary (Baptist General Conference of Canada), Canadian Theological Seminary (Christian and Missionary Alliance of Canada), Trinity Western Seminary (Evangelical Free Church of Canada), Northwest Baptist Seminary (Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada), Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (Mennonite Brethren Conference), and Canadian Pentecostal Seminary (Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada).

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