Anne-Marie Kirmse - "Evangelization for the Third Millennium"
4:29PM Jul 9, 2020
Jonathan J. Armstrong
Today it's our huge pleasure to be speaking with sister Anne-Marie Kirmse. Sister Anne-Marie Kirmse is a nun in the Dominican order, a doctor of theology and for 20 years from 1988 to 2008 served as the assistant to His Eminence Avery Cardinal Dulles, when he served as the Lawrence J. McGinley, Professor of religion and society at Fordham University. Today happens to mark the one year anniversary from SR and Maria's retirement from Fordham University and we offer congratulations to her. I've asked today that sister Anne Marie would join us for a conversation about this book, Evangelization for the Third Millennium, published by every Cardinal Dulles the text is a collection of his lectures as McKinley chair at Fordham University, sister Emory, thank you so much for being with us today. You're welcome. My pleasure. Sister Anne Marie, you served every Colonel Dallas from 1988 to 2008. Would you be willing to share with us when and how you came to know every Cardinal Dulles?
Well, it's a long journey. When I was preparing for my master's comprehensives at Providence College. I finished my coursework and was preparing for my comps when he published the book models of the church. Since Arby's majoring in eco ecclesiology as you know, potted systematic theology. I knew that would be on the questions and so I had to teach that book to myself. I could practically memory I had to practically memorize. And then several years later, I was at Catholic University doing postgraduate studies. And I did a book report on the resilient church, which is the book that followed models of the church. And the professor wrote as a comment, you know, every day was his theology. Every well. When it came time for me to choose a topic for my doctoral dissertation at Fordham, I specifically wanted to do something for the Catholic Church in America, and who would be the most likely person to choose for that. But father Dulles, in those times, and so I went to Washington to visit with him and talk to him about it. I should also tell you, he did not think that his writings were important enough to be the subject of a dissertation, nor did he think he was worth a trip to Washington to talk to him. So ability started Even then, um, and then when I was finishing my work, Cardinal delis, Father, Dolson, still came to Fordham as a as the negin lead professor, and I worked with him for a year I was the first graduate assistant. I had your For one year, and then I graduated at Fordham created a position for me which I retired from last September
30 years later.
This ran Murray, would you be willing to share with us how it was that you came to focus in on ecclesiology? Particularly in your doctoral studies?
Because I love the church.
I was asked that question at Fordham when I applied there, and that was my incident. It's my incident. Now. I love the church. And I wanted to learn as much about it as I could show that I could share it with other people.
So this is a really important point, you and Cardinal Dallas, shared than this deep rooted lifelong love for the church and I was privileged to witness that while working in your office. Where did that love for the church come from?
Well, in my case, I think came from my my family, my parents, my grandparents, my aunts on it came from my education, my friends, my social media, and I guess it's always been pointed me
this way and read all six issued the apostolic exhortation event Gala. He knew at&t in 1975. The the people in cyclical on the new evangelism. When did the New Evangelization become a significant focus for Cardinal Dulles?
I think it was part of his interest after the episodic exhortation was published, but it really wasn't until he became the beginning professor at Fordham that he delved into concentrating on it. Before he came to Florida, and he was teaching at Catholic University and lecturing publishing but not at the same level. As he was at Fordham he had more time at Fordham as McKinley professor. He gave two lectures a year and he taught one graduate class. But the rest of the time he was free to devote to his own scholarship. And in those 20 years, he delivered 39 begin lectures and 23 of them are devoted to some aspect of the New Evangelization. So you can see right there, how appointment was and also, he wanted to write this book on the New Evangelization. But then his health began to deteriorate quickly and he just wasn't able to do it, but he wanted to. And so he chose the essays and at the time, Michael canaris was at a graduate assistant and he got all the essays together. Michael canaris is now Dr. canaris of Loyola Chicago University. So then I, the condom would go over the material. And at first he would curse out the things that he wanted to change. But when he was no longer able to use his hands, he would crunch the bottom of a piece of paper and I would go through it, looking for what I thought was the situation he wanted changed if I couldn't find it, I move the stylists line by line until he shook his head. It was it was a labor of love for him. And it has been said that what a person does at the end, his or her life is the most important thing to that person. And Kondo though has wanted this book, to be able to be published before his death. That did not happen. It wasn't Already, but it had not gone to the publishing process. So it was published posthumously in the spring of 2009. Mr. Emery, would
you be willing to share with us briefly your paraphrase of the teaching of this 1975 and cyclical, the New Evangelization?
Um, I think Pope Paul the sixth saw that
the things were not the way they should be, as far as the Catholic faithful were concerned. After the reformation, we were very much involved in defensive behavior. And when I was on both sides, but and then the the church began holding on very firmly to teachings and doctrine and kind of lost the sense of the gospel and the importance of the gospel. And so this episode Rotation tries to write that situation after Vatican two, and tries to show that the gospel has to be at the center of all Christian life. Everything else flows from that. And that we as Catholics have to be more aware of the scriptures in our daily life when I was growing up that was not
emphasized at all. Mr. Emery on page 42, Cardinal Dulles writes the New Evangelization, unlike most of the Catholic preaching since the Reformation is ecumenical. In line with Vatican two, the recent Pope's have called attention to the authentic elements of faith in other Christian communities. They are seriously committed to promoting the unity of all Christians in accordance with a high priestly prayer of Jesus. And then, citation of john 17. My question to you would be what did Cardinal dolla sees the ecumenical dimension of the New Evangelization
Well, I'm going back again to the Vatican Council to
the the council had stress that there were elements of truth in the other religious bodies that call themselves Christian. And that was something that had been overlooked in the past. And so kondal Dulles, looking at the New Evangelization, and humanism, which is one of his favorite topics, was very interested in helping the various churches to see what they believed in in common. What did they hold in common? And then what were the points of disagreement? And could those points be worked at? And could they possibly then come to a convergence of belief whereby they could be following the prayer of Jesus that will maybe one so It was a way of dialogue with all of these other groups and looking for points of agreement, starting off with points in agreement and then looking to disagreement. Now, that did not mean that he meant anything should be watered down in any group, that everything should be approached, I quoting him now straightforward, and honestly. And when there was disagreement, it was not so much we agree to disagree. But it was a way of looking into those those disagreements and seeing if there were commonalities in those also and looking from the historical perspective, you know, where they began and did they still hold true today, so that that would be his ecumenical thrust.
Sr Emery chapter six of the text evangelization for the third millennium is titled The evangelization of culture and the Catholic University. How did Cardinal Dulles see his work as a university professor participating in the work of the New Evangelization?
Well, he sees the university as a place of inquiry of research of learning. So it is not a place of catechesis or religious instruction and would be in a church, with younger students in a religious school. But he felt that culture has a lot. It's very reciprocal with the church, that the church is really incarnated in a particular culture and that culture has to be taken into account and also So culture informs the church but the church informs culture that the church looks to help the people in a particular culture, see what is good and lasting and beautiful and to bring those things forward and also as a some as a remedy for those aspects of culture which may have fallen into problematic areas. So he felt that the Catholic University did not need to have it shirt Catholic teaching into every particular course. But it seems but it would be using its own values to imbue various courses for example, we haven't had a big business school at Fordham. And so the the thrust there would be some type of ethical principles that the church holds that could be shown to the students as how they would act later on when they are as adults as they are fashioning the culture that is continuing.
Mr. Emery were their classes that Cardinal Daleks particularly enjoyed teaching at Fordham University.
Yes, and he enjoyed teaching classes on faith and Revelation. And in that was his basics first or his life. And those were the classes that he enjoyed teaching. He only taught one case in ecclesiology, believe it or not at Fordham, and he questions himself as to whether or not he had done a good job in that course. Now I attended every courtesy of it. And I said, at Fordham, and I said to him that when he taught us ecclesiology he came alive, his eyes sparkled his and I said, I see a difference in you when you teach ecclesiology or when you speak on ecclesiology. He never saw that in himself,
sister and Marie. The final three chapters of the text are titled, models of evangelization models of catechesis and models of apologetics respectively. How did the models approach to theology that Cardinal Dulles pioneered in his 1974 Classic models of the church? How did that continue to inform his theological method in his reflections on the New Evangelization toward the end of his life?
Well, the models approach as you know, tries to look at the entire field and to take out various strands that are very prominent, and then to look at each individually. Drink and give the good and the I shouldn't say the good, the bad, but the very positive and perhaps somewhat negative features in each. So what he did in his and those three topics that you mentioned in those chapters, he tried to show various groupings, that the different approaches could be listed as, and then to give the points that were very good and that the points that that were a little deficient, but because this is a book of essays, he was not able to fully develop this, as he did in models of the church, for example, in model of the church, he was able to bring in a lot of the teaching of various theologians into different models, yea and nay in each model, but when it came to an article he could own mentioned perhaps one or two or none at all, and just give more of a generalized a situation, but as always with the models approach, he tries to show that no one model is sufficient in itself. And that because a person prefers a certain model does not mean it is the beholder the angle of that particular topic and therefore, other models should be looked at as well and then their whole becomes better than the sum of its parts.
History Emory, would you be willing to tell us what you believe was Cardinal Avery Dallas, his greatest theological achievement.
I think that he always strove to be on the VNA via the middle way that he tried not to attend to one side or The other, you know, continuously but that to look at the best of both sides and he said himself back in 1976 in the Brazilian church, I am not easily labeled as a conservative or liberal to the conservatives up to liberal and to the liberals up to conservative. So even and that just got more and more prominent as the years went on. But he always maintained that middle of the road and he tried to show what was good in every approach, whether it was far right or far left, and to try to take out the good and show the good and how that could be used. He also never denigrated any of his opponents, or they weren't any of them. He never called anyone names he ever put anyone down. But he always tried to see what was the good in that person's work? Yes, he was a gentleman in the finest sense of that word. And he was Catholic, to his core being very, very inclusive.
Mr. Emery, if I can close with a question that we've been asking all of the interviewees on this program, and that is this, what would it mean for the church to be united today? How might we recognize this unity? And what is it that we can do to pursue this unity in the church that Jesus prayed for in john 17? And if I may ask you if if there is a significant difference between your own answer and the answer that you suspect Cardinal Dulles would have given to that question, I'd be grateful for those reflections as well.
I think I'm at the basis of Christian unity is the fact that we cannot do it on our own cause Don't dose well we spoke about the importance of the Holy Spirit and following the the spirits lead not you know, saying, well we can bring the churches together or we can't bring the churches together we have to leave them for the Spirit. And secondly, I think he would want to walk with the church look like if it was united? Well, I think there would be a more openness to each other. There would be more service of others that would be bringing more justice to the world that would be a more palatable sign of the kingdom of God that this is how Christians act. Now that they are together. We do a lot of that but we do it in individual camps. My own institution That is I think that before we can come to this reunion of the churches, I think we have to experience the pain of our disunity. kondal Dallas mentions this again in the resilient church, you might have figured out that's my favorite book it is. But when he was opposed to inter communion at that time, he said it was too quick and it would, etc. And he said, first we have to experience the pain of our disunity before we can receive the Eucharist together. And at Fordham we once had some we had small group coming to this in the summer, and we would stand around the altar for the important parts of the nurse. And we had a young Methodist man coming to me every day somebody bought him a missile, Cody could follow it and he would stay in With us, and when we finished the Our Father and the kiss of peace, he would return to his place and he was very devout. He would bow his head and pray. And I would walk back from the altar having received communion. And I would say this is what by the dose meant. This is the pain of disunity we can all receive. And yet because our churches aren't united, he can't. And yet he never said anything against this. He just took what was there and he it was just beautiful to to experience that although it was painful at the same time, so I think we cannot rush into and I know Cardinal Dulles felt that we cannot rush into reuniting the churches we have to do it step by step but we have to follow the spirits lead every one of us.
It's been our delight today to be speaking with Pfister and Marie doctor of theology, not In the Dominican order and 20 year assistance to Avery Cardinal Dulles from 1988 to 2008, sister and Mary, thank you so much for your responses and engagement today. Thank you
for having me do this. Looking back into that and seeing the value