A.J. Boyd has been awarded the Russell Berrie Fellowship in Interreligious Studies. Boyd is a 2009 graduate of STM’s Pastoral Leadership Program (PLP). He has been accepted to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome to pursue a License (S.T.L.) and then a Doctorate (S.T.D.) in ecumenism. The award is a two-year grant which covers tuition, fees, room and board, and travel expenses. The fellowship is awarded by the Russell Berrie Foundation created to express the values and passions of philanthropist Russell Berrie, who died in 2002 at the age of 69. Along with the Annual Lecture Series on Interreligious Studies, the goal of the Fellowship Program is to build bridges between Catholic, Jewish, and other religious traditions by providing the next generation of religious leaders with a comprehensive understanding of and dedication to inter-faith issues. Russell Berrie Fellows are expected to complete the program and return home to their parishes and communities to lead others in efforts to promote inter-faith understanding. Commenting on the award, Boyd said, “Ecumenical work has been at the core of my vocation to ministry since childhood. Ministry and leadership formation within the Catholic Church has been a growing interest of mine. This is one of only three doctoral programs I have found worldwide with a specific focus in ecumenism, and is primarily designed for ecumenical formation and reception. The opportunity to add inter-religious studies to the ecumenical study is an unexpected blessing for which I am grateful.
Support for my applications has come from a number of people, and I would like to publicly express my gratitude to Archbishop Alex Brunett, as well as to others who wrote recommendations: Sr. Lorelei Fuchs, Dr. Marianne LaBarre and to Frs. Roger O’Brien, Jim Northrop, and Scott Connolly. Over the course of my ministry so far, I have served in five parishes and a university campus ministry, as well as performing contract work for many chancery offices. As enlightening as these experiences have been, I am anxious to return to full-time studies. I would love to come back and continue to serve the church in western Washington, but will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the years to come.”
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