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New president/rector named for Mount St. Mary’s Seminary

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February 16, 2011

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES DEANERY — Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr has appointed Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh the 35th president/rector of the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.


 Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh (File photo)

The new appointment, announced Feb. 14, takes effect July 1.


The archbishop also created the position of vice rector and appointed Father Anthony R. Brausch, an instructor of philosophy, to fill the post.   


Archbishop Schnurr said he is asking Father O’Cinnsealaigh “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,” he added.


Since 2004, Father O’Cinnsealaigh has served as director of seminary formation at the Athenaeum of Ohio’s Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, which is the third-oldest Catholic seminary in the United States.


Achbishop Schnurr thanked outgoing president/rector Father Edward P. Smith for his almost seven years of service, citing many accomplishments during his tenure at the helm of the Athenaeum and its seminary.


“I feel very fortunate to have served at Mount St. Mary’s with Father Smith for the last 11 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.”


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.  


Father Smith never left the classroom during his tenure, continuing to teach seminarians, deacons and lay ministers.


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.


“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 11 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. . . . My life, my vocation, and my ministry are better for having been here.”  


Father O’Cinnsealaigh, 47, is a native of Dublin, Ireland, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1993, the same year he came to the United States. He holds a degree in humanities from All Hallows College, Dublin; a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome; and a licentiate in sacred theology and a doctorate in sacred theology from the International Marian Research Institute, Dayton.


Prior to being assigned to the Athenaeum in 2000, Father O’Cinnsealaigh was assistant pastor of Holy Angels Parish, Sidney, while also serving as head of the religion department and campus minister at Lehman Catholic High School. He earlier served as assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great Parish, Kettering.


He became a U.S. citizen in 2004, the same year he was named “Teacher of the Year” at the seminary. In addition to his role 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.


“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 O’Cinnsealaigh said.

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