[CUA Office of Public Affairs]                                                            

Sept. 29, 2000

 Father Happel Named Religious Studies Dean at CUA

Washington, D.C. - The Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., President of The Catholic University of America, announced the appointment of the Rev. Stephen Happel as dean of the university’s School of Religious Studies.

            A priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Father Happel had served for more than a year as interim dean. His appointment to the permanent position came after an international search and received the approval (recognitio) of the Holy See this week.

            In announcing the appointment, Father O’Connell praised Father Happel’s "extraordinary administrative ability in the performance of his role as interim dean of the School of Religious Studies during the past year."

"His many years of service both as a faculty member and as chair of the Department of Religion and Religious Education have equipped him well to lead the school and its faculties to new levels of academic excellence," Father O’Connell said. "I have long admired him for his many wonderful talents, his pastoral sensitivity and his deep and abiding commitment to the Church and the University. I look forward to continuing a wonderful working relationship and friendship.

"The episcopal members of the Board of Trustees, including Father Happel's own Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, have expressed great satisfaction at the news," he added.

A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Father Happel received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from St. Meinrad College and a master of arts in English literature from Indiana University. He earned a Ph.B. in philosophy from the Higher Institute for Philosophy in Louvain, Belgium, and doctoral degrees in religious studies and theology from The Catholic University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium. He first came to CUA as a student in the theology department and, later, served as instructor and assistant professor of systematic theology.

He went on to hold posts in the St. Meinrad School of Theology, University of Notre Dame, Boston College and Gonzaga University.

"I am deeply grateful for the trust placed in me by Father O’Connell and the faculty of the School of Religious Studies," Father Happel said. "Our University has a long tradition of constructive, historical and interdisciplinary scholarship. As a result, we have the opportunity to shape theology and religious studies for the next 25 years. Our faculty serve undergraduate and graduate students who will be the future leaders of the Church in the world. I look forward to guiding a school committed to such a proud heritage and a bright future."

An expert in systematic theology, foundational and fundamental theology, and religion and culture, Father Happel is the author of several books including A Catholic Vision, with David Tracy, and Conversion and Discipleship: Christian Foundations for Ethics and Doctrine, with James J. Walter. In conjunction with his appointment to a 10-year research project with the Vatican Observatory, he has a forthcoming book entitled God’s Journey in Time: The Use of Metaphors in Science and Religion.

He serves on the executive committee and the ecumenical committee of the Washington Theological Consortium; the arts, literature and religion section of the American Academy of Religion; and the core group for the Science and Religion project of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

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Revised: February 12, 2001

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