by Julie Demers
Theology professor Rev. Sean Harty received an early Christmas present
this year when Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte named him episcopal vicar
for the English-speaking community of the Montreal archdiocese.
In the Roman Catholic church, an episcopal vicar is an assistant to the
archbishop, in this case Cardinal Turcotte. Father Harty is now responsible
for the 190,000 anglophone Catholics of the Montreal region. Even though
this is a full-time job, he will continue to teach at least one course
per semester. I will make time, he insisted in an interview.
Harty has been teaching at Concordia for five years and he enjoys it.
I love Concordia and I love teaching, said the 52-year-old
priest, who earned his BA in theology at Concordia in 1978.
He started his new duties at the archdioceses office on Dec. 2,
but will be back in January to teach THEO 404, Practicum in Pastoral Ministry,
which is his specialty. He will also continue to work with a masters
student under his supervision.
In the past few years, Harty has seen a remarkable increase in the number
of theology students. Were up about 15 per cent in the department,
He believes that this increase is due to the questions that the students
are asking themselves about the value system in a consumer-oriented world,
and where they fit into it.
He believes that we live in a time where answers are usually easily accessed,
but in terms of ethics, ideologies and values, these questions are more
difficult to address.
Harty believes that theology should be taught in dialogue with other
sciences, like economics or sociology, and that is the way it is now done.
It was quite different when he was a theology student. There has
been a change not just in the theory of theology, but also in the praxis
[practice] of it, he said.
Pamela Bright, chair of the Theological Studies Department, said that
Father Harty is an extraordinary communicator. He also helps reinforce
the Departments links with many religious communities in Montreal,
Since he was also the associate pastor at St. Edmund of Canterbury parish
in suburban Beaconsfield, he will continue to live there.
Because of the shortage of priests and the large number of anglophones
attending that church, he will assist the priest in this parish whenever
he has a week-end off from his duties as episcopal vicar.
Before teaching at Concordia, Harty was chief executive officer at St.
Marys Hospital. He managed this hospital at different levels for
15 years, and he believes that might be one reason why Cardinal Turcotte
named him episcopal vicar.
A lot of people ask me if I had to apply for that job, but thats
not how its done, said Father Harty laughing. He thinks the
cardinal wanted someone with management experience.
Harty also feels he has benefited from his teaching experience at Concordia.
The Theology Department is both energizing and fulfilling for him.
I often refer to my students without naming them when
I say mass, because they raise such good questions, he said. They
help him to reflect on certain issues and he passes these thoughts on
to his parishioners. That kind of insight might be another reason he was
appointed to his new position.