Celebrate Father David Smith's retirement at June 2 barbecue

Celebrate Father David Smith's retirement at June 2 barbecue

The Theology and Justice and Peace Studies departments invite you to a barbecue in honor of Father David Smith, who is retiring this spring after 37 years of teaching at St. Thomas.

The barbecue will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 2, near the peace garden in the St. Paul campus' upper quadrangle. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Rogge-Leyden Room in Murray-Herrick Campus Center.

You're also invited to honor Smith with contributions to a special fund in his name. Since the Father David Smith Fund began in 2003, it has helped students fund projects such as producing documentaries, publishing booklets, traveling to conferences to give presentations, and undertaking research projects. All donations are tax deductible. Checks can be made payable to "Fr. Smith Fund for Justice & Peace (UST)" and sent to Dr. Chris Toffolo, Mail JRC 432, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105.

Smith has been part of the St. Thomas community since arriving as a college freshman in 1955; three years later he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. Ordained in 1964, he served in parishes in the Twin Cities, did graduate studies in Rome, and returned to St. Thomas in 1970 as a member of the theology faculty. He continued his graduate studies in the United States, Rome and Jerusalem from 1973 to 1976, when he returned to the Theology Department. He was named St. Thomas' Professor of the Year in 1994.

In addition to his longtime service as a faculty member in the Theology Department and teaching in the School of Divinity, Smith founded St. Thomas' Justice and Peace Studies program, which has offered a minor since 1987 and a major since 1991.

After the U.S. bishops' pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response," was issued in 1983, Monsignor Terrence Murphy, president of St. Thomas at the time, asked the faculty for a meaningful contribution to the bishops' call to "pursue peace incessantly." An interdisciplinary faculty committee studied the issue and an academic program was developed with a strong spiritual dimension; significant research, writing and discussion components; and an introduction to varied faith traditions that have animated the world's communities with regard to justice and peace. Over time, it became clear that experiential and internship opportunities also were important for students, as well as foreign study and travel.

In 1997 Smith used a sabbatical to visit model programs, including those at Manhattan College in New York City and Boston College. The next fall, he traveled through 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries, comparing the influence and interactions of various theologies, active nonviolence, charismatic renewal and mission work. After returning from these travels, he developed a framework to unite the various goals and visions of the original planning committee with a workable pedagogy and program.

Today St. Thomas' Justice and Peace Studies program runs five of its own classes and works with more than 15 other departments and units across the university. It also works with various community organizations locally and nationally. More than 60 students major in justice and peace studies, and many other students are pursuing a minor in the field. Students in the program are noted for their commitment and strong classroom engagement.

Smith is finishing a textbook, Understanding World Religions: A Roadmap for Justice and Peace, that can be used for justice and peace, theology, political science or international relations classes. It is scheduled for publication later this year by Rowman and Littlefield. He also plans to revise another textbook he wrote for the program, How Could You Think Such a Thing? for a wider audience.