Published September 7, 2017
ATLANTA—Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and the Aquinas Center of Theology are together strengthening opportunities on campus to engage the local Catholic community.
The two academic entities entered into an affiliation agreement this summer. Leaders hope to boost the number of speakers addressing contemporary Catholic issues, as well as attract more Catholic students interested in earning advanced degrees in theology.
The Aquinas Center, established at Emory in 1987 by the Southern Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres, will remain an independent nonprofit, but will now be tied closer to the graduate level studies at the Candler School.
There will be more opportunities to engage on Catholic issues under this new arrangement, including the proposed addition of an annual “Aquinas Day at Emory” and a Catholic-Orthodox lecture series, Aquinas Center executive director Phillip Thompson said in an email.
“Emory continues to provide opportunities for teaching and exploring the Catholic faith. The new lectures on Aquinas and Catholic-Orthodox relations offer windows to all Catholics into the living tradition of the church. There will also be classes available at Candler for those who want to deepen their knowledge of the faith,” Thompson said.
The Aquinas Center has been an affiliate of the university, but this updated agreement makes it an affiliate of the Candler School of Theology specifically. The school, which offers 16 degree programs, recently welcomed 179 students and awarded 147 academic degrees in May.
The Candler School has been a training ground for ministers of the United Methodist Church. It also offers certificates in Baptist Studies and Episcopal Studies. Now, a Catholic Studies program will be added to Candler’s offerings. The program is to launch in the fall of 2018. Tony Alonso, a Catholic with an expertise in contemporary liturgical music, begins this fall as the first director of Catholic Studies.
The Aquinas Center will continue to organize events to help Catholics better understand their faith, Thompson said. The Catholic Studies minor at the undergraduate level of Emory University and a “Consistent Ethic of Life” lecture series will continue.
Thompson said the new affiliation and the planned Catholic Studies program can meet a need in the growing local church. It is estimated there are more than 1 million Catholics in the Atlanta Archdiocese.
The Aquinas Center and Candler worked closely during the past 30 years. In 2010 they jointly hosted the weeklong visit of Cardinal Walter Kasper, then president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
“Having the Aquinas Center directly affiliated with Candler provides a mutually beneficial framework for a robust, collaborative relationship that will enrich the intellectual and spiritual lives of Emory students, faculty, staff and the broader Atlanta community,” said Jan Love, the Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean of Candler, in a news release.