The College of Saint Elizabeth honored five leading theologians and educators with the Servant Leadership Award at a special presentation that took place during We Are God’s People, the College’s Annual Spirituality Convocation, sponsored by the CSE Center for Ministry and Spirituality on Saturday, April 20, 2013. More than 500 people attended the event that brought together leading theologians and educators for a day of spiritual renewal and formation. Two of the Servant Leadership Award recipients delivered the keynotes. Dr. Robert Wicks, professor of psychology at Loyola University in Baltimore, gave the morning address, and Lee Nagel, executive director for the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership in Washington, D.C., spoke in the afternoon.
In addition, the Convocation featured a morning prayer and Eucharist, and a choice of two out of 15 workshops, led by recognized experts and scholars. The Convocation also includes a program in Spanish.
Servant Leadership Award Recipients Chosen for Body of Work
In addition to Dr. Wicks and Nagel, the award, which was established to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of the College of Saint Elizabeth in 2009, was presented to Dr. Bernard Prusak, professor for Historical and Systemic Theology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania; Rev. Msgr. William Reilly, CSE adjunct professor and pastor of Holy Name Church in Garfield, N.J.; and Sister Kathleen Flanagan, SC, CSE professor of theology.
“Jesus taught the disciples that leadership involves a willingness to be ‘servant of all,’” explains Carol Pisani, director of the CSE De Paul Center for Ministry and Spirituality and special assistant to the president for mission and values. “We find our common ground in this understanding with many different cultures and faith traditions all over the world. The embodiment of servant leadership entails the ability to change hearts, heal divisions, and build community, and the virtues of courage, foresight, empathy, and stewardship.”
Honorees Bring a Variety of Experiences to Their Ministries
Dr. Bernard Prusak is also the former chair of theology and religious studies department at Villanova University. He is the author of The Church Unfinished: Ecclesiology through the Centuries,as well as numerous articles. He has lectured extensively on both the historical and theological perspective of the Second Vatican Council and its continued influence and challenges with hope for new possibilities.
“Dr. Bernard P. Prusak would be known to many who have been his privileged students that he is the hearer of the story, the keeper of the story and the bearer of the story in our world today,” read his citation.”Certainly, he has done so in his very being as he profoundly lives the Gospel in our world. However, in addition to that, he has been the bearer of the good news of Vatican II since his own experience of that aggiornamento many years ago. With faithful courage and love, Bernie has kept before us that vision of church that came from the ‘community of unexpected persons’ whom Jesus gathered around himself and how that church was shaped over the course of centuries, by human decisions made in the spirit. He challenges all of us to understand the complexity of the development of the church while at the same time also challenging us to the openness to the future in which God may be calling the Church to new possibilities.”
In additional to his current position, Lee Nagel has been the director of education for the Diocese of Green Bay. He was a member of the San Diego Diocesan Retreat Consultants and an international speaker and facilitator of youth events and educational conferences. For 15 years, he was employed in a variety of teaching and administrative capacities at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. He is currently pursuing his doctorate at Alliant University in San Diego, California. Nagel was the recipient of the National Catholic Education Association’s Presidential Award as well as the NCCL’s Recognition for Service Award.
Nagel was described as a faith-filled storyteller, an educator by profession, a catechist by vocation, a teacher by trade and an evangelist by baptism. “An arts and theater enthusiast, Lee does not merely speak his message but acts it out in the way he lives his life,” read his citation. “He continues to dance in the landscape of children’s literature and poetry, seeking truth in the stories of imagination. He is a leader in Catholic religious education in the United States – dedicated to bringing the teaching ministry of Jesus to every Catholic child, youth and adult.”
Monsignor Williams Reilly is pastor of Holy Name Parish in Garfield, N.J., where he serves as director of multicultural affairs. He has also served nine years as director of Hispanic ministry in the Archdiocese of Newark. He was a member of the Governor of New Jersey "Blue Ribbon" panel on immigration issues where he offered his extensive experience in the matter. Father Reilly has worked with immigrants since 1965, and their pastoral care is a very important part of his ministry. Father Reilly is associate professor at the College of Saint Elizabeth and a renowned presenter and author of numerous writings on Hispanic ministry, pastoral immigration and immigrants.
“Today he continues to be a voice for the voiceless, walking with God’s people, challenging them to BE CHURCH,” read his citation. “He has been a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration sharing his expertise in this area. He is a passionate renowned speaker and author in the area of immigration, pastoral care of immigrants, and Hispanic Ministry. Msgr. Reilly stands before us as a living example of the college’s commitment to direct service to the people of God and systemic change.”
A Sister of Charity of Saint Elizabeth of 51 years, Sister Kathleen Flanagan is a lifelong educator and has taught in the classrooms of Barry University, St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, and now serves as a professor of theology at the College of Saint Elizabeth. She holds a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary and also studied Church History and Spirituality at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Through her work as co-director of the Holocaust Education Center at the College of Saint Elizabeth, she presented at the 2008 International Conference on the Holocaust in Yad Vashem, Israel.
Sister Kathleen was credited for her embrace and passion for the Second Vatican Council in ensuing years that has led her to become a much respected voice for interfaith dialogue. In her citation, she was described as a scholar both inside and outside the classroom, offering wisdom that comes from the Gospel in her heart and that self-reflective determination to be a light of truth in the world.
Dr. Wicks is also an author of more than 40 books. In 2006, he received the first annual Alumni Award for Excellence in Professional Psychology from Widener University. He is also the recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American Counseling Association’s Division on Ethics and Values. For his service to the Roman Catholic Church, Dr. Wicks received the Papal Medal from His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
Dr. Wicks was recognized for his “his remarkable commitment and service to the entire human community as healer and agent of reconciliation.” His citation read, “Storytelling and is an ancient art with profound effect on life and the human spirit – for stories can bring joy, laughter, inspiration, and healing—they become a vehicle for passing on tradition, wisdom and values. Yet it is the rare instance where these profound gifts are all wrapped in one and tied with the ribbons of spirituality and psychology. We have had the privilege of sitting at the feet of a master story teller, psychologist, and spiritual master in Dr. Robert J. Wicks.”