With deep gratitude and mixed emotions, I share with you that Father Larry Snyder, our vice president for mission, will retire on June 30 this year. Father Snyder, a nationally known leader in Catholic social teaching, has played a vital role in building our more-robust Office for Mission and enhancing our pursuit of the common good. He will be greatly missed by our entire community.
While we are sad to see Father Snyder retire, I am pleased and excited to report that effective July 1, Father Christopher Collins, S.J., who most recently served as assistant to the president for mission and identity at Saint Louis University, will become our next vice president for mission.
Father Snyder and Father Collins will have some time to transition their leadership, as Father Collins will teach a theology course at St. Thomas this spring semester, and he will assist part time in the Office for Mission until his new role begins.
Father Snyder, who is serving a two-thirds appointment until his retirement, can be credited with many achievements since his arrival at St. Thomas in February 2015. His contributions – from deepening community engagement to helping us articulate our charism and promoting interfaith and global service efforts – will leave an indelible mark on this institution.
Under Father Snyder’s leadership, our Mass offerings were expanded to include more-frequent weekly Masses throughout the year, and liturgy across campus was renewed with a very welcoming and engaging spirit. He loves the liturgy of the Mass and made it a priority to ensure that music contributed to the spiritual experience at Mass. Under his guidance, we expanded the scope of Campus Ministry, with additional Catholic priests and three associate chaplains. They have helped us toward a greater understanding of interfaith ministry because it advances our Catholic mission. Our ministry now includes three priests, a Jewish rabbi, a Protestant minister and an Islamic leader, spiritual guides for our religiously diverse student body. Father Snyder also helped direct a recent renovation of our historic Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas and was actively involved in the creation of our new Iversen Center for Faith.
Father Snyder is particularly focused on expanding our community engagement initiatives, locally and globally, and under his leadership the Center for the Common Good was established. He also increased mission-driven engagement among our faculty, across disciplines. He established a yearlong “Engaging Our Mission” faculty seminar series and an annual trip to Rome to help faculty engage with the global church and more deeply understand our Catholic mission and traditions. Father Snyder built a very strong foundation for the Office for Mission, a legacy which I am confident will continue and grow under Father Collins’ leadership.
Father Collins is a Tommie. He graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He taught English and theology at Cotter High School in Winona, Minnesota, before entering the Jesuit novitiate in St. Paul. After his studies at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was ordained at Creighton University in Omaha. He then worked with the Lakota as a pastor on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He completed his doctorate in theology at Boston College. He has a deep passion for promotion of racial equality, for reducing poverty and homelessness, and for helping students turn their own passions into action.
Father Collins’ goal is to create a variety of experiences and ongoing opportunities to help people find themselves in ways that pertain to the Catholic mission that we all share. He is eager to engage in relationship-building within our community and the greater Twin Cities metro area, focusing on where the needs are greatest. We look forward to having his energy on campus.
Please join me in welcoming Father Collins and thanking Father Snyder for his stewardship in advancing the common good.