The Rev. Michael Sweeney, president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., will speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, in Palm Beach Atlantic University’s DeSantis Family Chapel. The free event is the annual Aquinas Lecture sponsored by the University's Newman Club. Call 561-803-2419 for information.
Father Sweeney will speak on the topic, “A Philosophia Perennis? St. Thomas Aquinas and ‘Post-Modern’ Sensitivities,” which he describes in this way: “To the degree that we can free ourselves of the influence of the Enlightenment, we can discover that St. Thomas has a good deal of sympathy with some of our ‘post-modern’ concerns, even as he talks about the existence of God or about the natural law.”
Father Sweeney was appointed in June 2004 as the president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Ordained in 1979, Father Sweeney has served as both a university chaplain and as a pastor in a parish setting.
Father Sweeney’s chief interest is the mission of the Church to the world. This requires, he notes, an understanding of the relationships within the Church between the clergy, the laity and parish community in light of that mission, and formation of the laity for their task as apostles.
In 1997 he co-founded with Sherry Weddell, a lay woman, the Catherine of Siena Institute, whose purpose is to assist parishes to provide a formation for lay men and women. The Institute has addressed more than 50,000 Catholics throughout North America and Asia.
Father Sweeney has developed and offered workshops in priestly formation, the theology of the laity, the theology of vocation, the theology of pastoral governance and Catholic social teaching. In addition to his duties as president of the DSPT, he has offered classes at the School on the role of the laity in the Church, particularly in light of the documents of Vatican II and John Paul II. Father Sweeney serves as a consultant to the California Catholic Conference.
Father Sweeney receives numerous invitations to give lectures and workshops related to the question of the mission of the Church to the world. In addition, Father Sweeney writes for a blog (http://re-visioningsociety.blogspot.com) — an invitation to reconsider some current assumptions about society in the light of the social teaching of the Catholic Church and the ancient political and philosophic tradition of the West.
The lecture series commemorates the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 -1274), a university professor and Dominican priest who organized the study of theology in the Summa Theologiae.