WTU Celebrates Two Milestones

HNP Communications Features

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This year Washington Theological Union, a Roman Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry, is rejoicing in the intersection of two formative events.

On Oct. 26, the institution celebrated its annual Founders’ Day to salute the religious orders, societies and institutes that founded the union, as well as those who have nurtured and sustained this collaborative enterprise for decades. It is through their charisms that WTU teaches theology, forms for 21st century ministry and engages in constructive dialogue with the world at large.

In addition, the school commemorated the tenth anniversary of the new building that heralded the union’s commitment to educating men and women for ministry and leadership in the Catholic Church. This magnificent edifice declares the union’s vision of becoming a premiere center for theological education and ministerial formation.

The heart of the union’s new building is the award-winning chapel, the Connelly Chapel of Holy Wisdom. In 1997, the chapel won a prestigious national design award from the American Institute of Architects.

Ten years have passed and the building and its environment have flourished and matured. The building was intentionally designed to have its spaces serve as areas of reflection and conversation, capitalizing on the warmth of colors and materials. It also was designed to serve as an art gallery, and over the past decade dozens of shows have been exhibited there. . The union also maintains a permanent collection of approximately 100 works, including several sculptures by Martha Tabor.

Calling to mind the building’s 10th anniversary, Founders’ Day highlighted two people integral to the building’s success. Vincent Cushing was president from 1975 to 1999 and led the capital campaign and move of Washington Theological Union from New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, Md., to our present-day campus in Washington, D.C.’s historic Takoma Park. Vincent presided at the evening’s liturgy.

Following the Mass, Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O Praem, received the alumni’s Excellence in Ministry Award. Fr. Ciferni, academic dean during construction, played a pivotal role in the design of the award-winning chapel.

Throughout this academic year, the union community will celebrate the building of the church through the living stones of our students and graduates. The academic year will culminate with the installation of the fifth president,  Louis Iasiello, a leading just-war theorist and retired rear admiral who most recently served as chief of Navy chaplains.