Sr. Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP

Professor of Theology

University of Notre Dame

Sr. Hilkert, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, is Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and a former member of the faculty at Aquinas Institute of Theology from 1984-1995 where she is remembered with much admiration and respect by her former students.

A noted theologian and author, Sr. Hilkert’s books include Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination, Speaking with Authority: Catherine of Siena and the Voices of Women Today, and co-editor with Robert J. Schreiter of The Praxis of the Reign of God: An Introduction to the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx. Currently she is working on a book titled Words of Spirit and Life: Theology, Preaching and Spirituality. In addition, she has published numerous articles on
contemporary theology, spirituality, and preaching.

A former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (2005-2006), Sr. Hilkert is the recipient of four honorary degrees (Providence College, Aquinas
Institute of Theology, Oblate School of Theology, and Catholic Theological Union) as well as the Washington Theological Union’s Sophia Award for Theological Excellence in service of ministry, Barry University’s Yves Congar Award for Theological Excellence, the Veritas Award from the Dominican Colloquium on Higher Education, and the Ann O’Hara Graff Award from the Women’s Constructive Theology seminar of the Catholic Theological Society of America. She has preached and offered lectures, workshops, and retreats in Catholic and ecumenical contexts in the United States, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, Australia, and South Africa.
Sr. Hilkert has also served on two international preaching commissions of the
Order of Preachers.

Sr. Hilkert’s has preached the Gospel in word and deed throughout her life-long ministry to the Church. As scholar and educator, she exemplifies the mission of Aquinas Institute, and with great respect and admiration, we honor her with the 2021 Great Preacher Award.


Fr. Ralph Siefert, S.M.

President, Chaminade College

Preparatory School

On August 20, 2021, there is no doubt that a band of angels and saints, led by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, gathered to welcome their brother Fr. Ralph Siefert home. Amidst much joy and laughter, there was a surely a great celebration to honor Fr. Ralph’s faithful service to the people of God for more than fifty years.

Raised in South St. Louis, Father Ralph met the Marianists as a student at St. Mary’s High school. He entered the Society of Mary in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1972. A learned scholar, Fr. Ralph held a doctorate from the Andover Newton Theological School, and master’s degrees from Saint Louis University, the University of San Francisco, and Northwestern University.

Fr. Ralph served as the Director of the Marianist Seminary in Toronto and was the Provincial Assistant for Religious Life for his province for five years. In 1988, he assumed the presidency of Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis where he would serve for almost thirty-five years. A visionary leader for more than a fourth of the school’s history, his tenure is marked by many accomplishments including ensuring the financial stability of the school, introducing a state-of-the art technology program, building an outstanding athletic program, and prioritizing the arts. Fr. Ralph was beloved by the school community – faculty, students, and parents alike. He was well-known as a master preacher and recognized for his ability to craft poignant and relevant homilies that helped to make sense of the many difficult challenges in our world today.

In honoring Fr. Ralph with the 2021 Great Preacher Award, Aquinas Institute celebrates his extraordinary legacy and the gift of his presence among us during his long and fruitful ministry as a Marianist priest, an educator, a leader, and as a man of God who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.