Woodstock Theological Center
WOODSTOCK THEOLOGICAL CENTER
The mission of the Woodstock Theological Center, located on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is to reflect on the Roman Catholic theological tradition and bring it into to dialogue with other traditions and other disciplines. It takes its name from the Woodstock College and Seminary established by the Society of Jesus on a large tract of land in Woodstock, Maryland, in 1869.
In the beginning the Woodstock scholasticate served as the house of studies for both philosophy and theology for the Jesuits in the entire United States. Angelo M. Paresce, SJ (1817–79), who as provincial of the Maryland Province purchased the land, was named the first rector. The faculty consisted of mostly Italian professors who had been driven from their homeland because of revolution and persecution. The college's first prefect of studies (or dean) was Camillo Mazzella, SJ (1833–1900); he was named a cardinal in 1886. In addition to philosophy and theology, the course of studies included languages (classical and modern), literature, history, mathematics, and science. After World War II, with an increased number of vocations to the society, the philosophy faculty and students moved (1952) to Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, New York, and subsequently (1957) to Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, New York. With the departure of the philosophers, Woodstock became exclusively a theologate. In 1969, prompted by a desire to do theology in an urban setting, Woodstock College, after celebrating the centenary of its founding in Maryland, moved to Morningside Heights, New York City, where it entered into a collaborative relationship with Union Theological Seminary and the Jewish Theological School.
Renowned Faculty. During the college's more than a century in existence, many of its faculty gained international reputations, and their manuals, originally written for Woodstock students, were often used as textbooks in other seminaries. Among these Jesuit professors were Benedict Sestini (1816–90), mathematician/astronomer; Aemilius M. De augustinis (1829–98), dogmatic theologian; Aloysius Sabetti (1839–98), moral theologian; Gustave weigel (1906–64), ecumenist; John Courtney murray (1904–67), dogmatic theologian; Avery Dulles (1918–), ecclesiologist; Walter J. Burghardt (1914–), patristic scholar; and Joseph A. Fitzmyer (1920–), biblical scholar.
Method of Reflection. With the reconfiguration of Jesuit seminaries in 1974, Woodstock College was closed. The library—one of the finest Catholic theological libraries in the United States—was moved to Georgetown University, and the Woodstock Theological Center was established. The center's method of theological reflection is rooted in the spirituality of discernment and decision making of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The cognitional theory and theological method of Bernard lonergan, SJ, gives a contemporary philosophical foundation to Woodstock's Ignatian process of theological reflection. The Center engages in research and conducts conferences and seminars. It publishes books and articles on a variety of topics and issues, e.g., national and world justice, power, population, environment, consumerism, etc. The Woodstock Report, a quarterly newsletter, covers Woodstock activities, programs, and public education events.
[j. l. connor]