The following press release was issued this week announcing the change:
Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr on Monday appointed the Rev. Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh the 35th president/rector of The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary effective July 1.
At the same time, the archbishop thanked outgoing president/rector, the Rev. Edward P. Smith, for almost seven years of service. He is expected to be assigned to parish ministry.
The archbishop also created the position of vice rector and appointed the Rev. Anthony R. Brausch, an instructor of philosophy, to fill the post.
The announcements were made at the Athenaeum, 6616 Beechmont Ave., in Mount Washington.
“During his term as rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and president of the Athenaeum,” Archbishop Schnurr said, “I am asking Father Benedict to give special attention to recruiting more dioceses to send their seminarians here, while continuing the spiritual, human and liturgical formation of our seminarians and growing the Athenaeum’s role in the diocese as a center of education and training both for the work of the lay ecclesial ministry and for outreach and evangelization to teachers and families.
“I want to reiterate my commitment to Mount St. Mary’s and the Athenaeum, and to the stated goal of this institution to become one of the premier institutions in the Church in the United States for the education and formation of priests and laity.
“In order to pursue these initiatives with the attention they deserve … (after discussion with Father O’Cinnsealaigh), I am appointing Father Anthony Brausch as vice rector.”
Since 2004, Father O’Cinnsealaigh has served as director of seminary formation at The Athenaeum of Ohio’s Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, the third oldest Catholic seminary in the United States.
“I feel very fortunate to have served at Mount St. Mary’s with Father Smith for the last eleven years,” said Father O’Cinnsealaigh. “He has been very effective in his ministry here and has been a kind and insightful mentor. I hope I can build on his work as he has built on the good work of those who went before him.
“I feel somewhat anxious about taking on this new ministry, but being surrounded by so many good, faithful, and competent collaborators is encouraging and also exciting. The archbishop has a dynamic vision for the Athenaeum and the seminary and the next few years should prove to be exciting and hopefully fruitful for the Church.” Father Benedict noted that while he is thousands of miles from his immediate family in Ireland, “I have a family here” at the Athenaeum and throughout the archdiocese.
Speaking of Father Smith, the archbishop cited many accomplishments during his tenure at the helm of the Athenaeum and its seminary. During Father Smith’s watch, the Athenaeum conducted the most successful capital campaign in its 181-year history recently raising more than $19 million – some 21 percent above the goal of $15.75 million.
“For more than 50 years, the practice has been that a rector serves for a term of six to seven years. I think this is a good practice for the wellbeing of both the rector/president and the institution… I thank Father Smith for his years of dedicated work in the service of educating and forming men and women in the faith and preparing them for the work of the Church,” Archbishop Schnurr said
At the Athenaeum, Father Smith never left the classroom during his tenure. He continued to teach seminarians, deacons and lay ministers while guiding the institution.
Archbishop Schnurr noted that the final phase of the expansion of seminarian housing from 46 to 70 suites came under Father Smith’s leadership and positions Mount St. Mary’s Seminary for future growth at a time when vocations to the Catholic priesthood are critically needed. Renovation and modernization of the Eugene H. Maly Memorial Library also was completed.
“The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary has given me so much. For 15 years of my life — four as a seminarian and eleven on the faculty — I have lived and worked with many wonderful people,” Father Smith said. “My vocation was formed here, and in the past years it has been strengthened by the zeal and commitment of our current students and faculty.
“One of the great joys in my time as president/rector is that I was given the opportunity to meet many people throughout the archdiocese and speak of the mission of this unique house of formation. I am so very grateful for all that God has given me in this assignment, and I will carry these gifts and memories with me always, thankful that I have worked with exemplary friends, colleagues, benefactors and students. My life, my vocation, and my ministry are better for having been here.”
Father Smith succeeded the Rev. Gerald R. Haemmerle, presently pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Kettering, who also served in the position for seven years. Father Smith, appointed by then-Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk was installed October 17, 2004.
Father O’Cinnsealaigh, 47, is a native of Dublin, Ireland. He is the oldest of five children and his parents, siblings and nieces and nephews all live in Dublin. Besides his roll as director of seminary formation, he also has served as director of permanent diaconate formation and as assistant professor of theology since 2000. He holds the recently created Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk Chair in Systematic Theology.
The new president/rector holds a diploma in humanities (philosophy) from All Hallows College, Dublin; a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome; a licentiate in sacred theology and a doctorate in sacred theology from International Marian Research Institute, Dayton.
Prior to being assigned to the Athenaeum, Father O’Cinnsealaigh was assistant pastor of Holy Angels Parish, Sidney, Ohio, while also serving a head of the religion department and campus minister at Lehman Catholic High School, Sidney. He earlier served as assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great Parish, Kettering.
Father Smith also was serving as director of formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary when appointed its president/rector. He is former vice rector and director of liturgy at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Father Smith, ordained in 1982, taught several seminary courses including: Principles of Religious Education, History of Christian Spirituality and Introduction to Spirituality.
Father Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Athenaeum in 1978 prior to moving to Rome where he received a bachelor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University – the equivalent of a master’s of divinity from American graduate schools.
Father Smith was former resident associate pastor at Our Lord Christ the King Parish in Cincinnati (Mount Lookout) from 1988 to 1991 working with Father Haemmerle, then the pastor.
Following his ordination to the priesthood, Father Smith was a teacher and campus minister at his high school alma mater, Archbishop McNicholas, in Mount Washington (1983-90). He served as associate pastor at St. Thomas More Parish, Withamsville in Clermont County (1983-87) and as Sunday associate at St. Susanna Parish in Mason (1987-88). He became resident associate pastor at Our Lord Christ the King, Cincinnati (1988-91) and a member of the adjunct faculty at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary (1989-95). He also served as a teacher and campus minister at Stephen T. Badin High School, Hamilton, and resident associate pastor at St. Peter in Chains Parish, Hamilton (1991-95) before moving to Rome.
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