Harry Byrne, O.P., D.Min.
Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology
- MA, Education, (University of South Florida)
- MA, Theology and M.Div., (Aquinas Institute of Theology)
- D.Min., (Eden Theological Seminary)
“Making our theological tradition relevant for ordinary Christians is the most important challenge for me as a teacher and minister. I want to bring together the wisdom of the centuries in which the Church has explored the questions that are at the heart of Christian belief: Who is God? What is God’s relationship to humans and all of creation? How is God calling us to live our human lives in faith and love?”
I was drawn to theology by my vocation as a Dominican. As we studied philosophy and theology in preparation for ministry, I found it more and more inviting. For me, this was not simply professional training, but something that was affecting me personally. The ideas from and investigations of theology have been formative of my personal spirituality as it prepared me with a strong foundation for doing Christian ministry. After beginning my life as an ordained minister/priest, I became particularly drawn to pastoral theology and how it brings profound theological concepts into the practicalities of the everyday living of the Christian life. This remains a focus of my interest today.
I enjoy the challenge of making our theological tradition relevant for ordinary Christians. I want to bring together the wisdom of the centuries in which the Church has explored the questions that are at the heart of Christian belief: Who is God? What is God’s relationship to humans and all of creation? How is God calling us to live our human lives in faith and love? Also, very important to me, is how theology can engage the varied, evolving manifestations of culture in society. An essential part of Christian theology’s responsibility is to deal with the complicated moral and spiritual issues that are aspects of our social life together. Finally, in all of our theological pursuits, it is important to remember, as Jesus pointed out regarding the Sabbath, human beings were not made for religion or theology these disciplines were created to help humans live authentic lives; the challenge is to keep theology in service to human life and our divine call.
My continuing areas of study include pastoral care and counseling and Christian spirituality and spiritual direction. I want to explore how pastoral care and counseling can become authentically a Christian expression of pastoral service and care for the Church. In this regard, I want to develop better ways to help students and those in ministry to become the most effective ministers possible, according to their personal gifts, for the many and varied needs of the Christian faith community today and in the future. Regarding spiritual direction, I want to investigate and develop new approaches and models to offer direction reflecting present day human desires for spiritual growth and integration in an individual’s life. This again is a challenge to express in new and functional ways the theological insights from the Roman Catholic tradition so they can assist women and men to live as fully as possible their Christian vocations. As a foundation for all of my other studies, I see the need to pursue a fuller understanding of the diverse ways that the resources of Christian spirituality can be applied to all areas of contemporary human life.
In my spare time I enjoy study for the sake of study just to broaden my perspective on life and to enrich my teaching and preaching. So, I am always reading literature, both fiction and poetry, and a wide variety of other types of books and articles. To relax, I like to walk, especially where the wonders of nature can be observed and enjoyed; the Missouri Botanical Garden and Forest Park in St. Louis are favorites. I like to putter around in my spare time with minor home repairs and yard work at our Dominican residence (a hundred year old home). Most relaxing to me is simply meeting with friends, over coffee or a glass of wine, for good discussions and in an atmosphere of true leisure and lightheartedness.