HPR Ressourcement

Monsignor William Brady, a professor of dogmatic theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College in Dunwoodie, New York, was asked in 1900 by the founder of Homiletic and Pastoral Review (then titled The Homiletic Monthly & Catechist) to serve as the very first editor-in-chief of this very journal. Monsignor Brady was the editor until 1916, at which time this journal was graciously turned over to the leadership of the Order of the Friar Preachers (the Dominicans) from 1916–1957. In that year, the editorship was given over to the Conventual Franciscan Friars until 1970. For a brief year, it returned to the editorship of a diocesan priest, and then in 1971, HPR was blessed to have Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ become the editor-in-chief. It was under his guidance and leadership that HPR became what it is today. Fr. Baker was succeeded in 2010 by another faithful Jesuit scholar, Fr. David Vincent Meconi, and, under the leadership of Fr. Meconi, HPR successfully moved to the online format.

In April 2022, I was asked by Fr. Meconi, with the permission of Ignatius Press, if I would consider taking over for him as the editor-in-chief of HPR. Even though I was a fairly frequent writer for HPR, I was rather surprised. I sought the permission of my Ordinary, Bishop Robert Brennan of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and it was granted. At the time of the appointment, I was leaving my last assignment as the academic dean of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy to begin serving as a professor of dogmatic theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College in Dunwoodie, New York! So I guess it is true: everything in life is a circle.

With HPR back in its “original home” with a Dunwoodie dogma professor as editor-in-chief, I thought it might be good for us to do a little ressourcement and to examine why HPR was created in 1900 in the first place, and how this original “charism,” if you will, will help HPR come to its 125th anniversary and how it can shape the future of this journal.

C. S. Lewis responds to this question concerning the absolute need to clarify terminology, to set limitations, and to generally have a clear, concise roadmap before engaging in any level of serious work. Lewis writes:

The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is — what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used. After that has been discovered the temperance reformer may decide that the corkscrew was made for a bad purpose, and the communist may think the same about the cathedral. But such questions come later. The first thing is to understand the object before you: as long as you think the corkscrew was meant for opening tins or the cathedral for entertaining tourists you can say nothing to the purpose about them.1

With this in mind, what is HPR and what purpose does it serve? Who is its primary audience? And what type of articles are we looking to publish in HPR?

First, what is HPR and what purpose does it serve? To answer this, I will return to what is clearly written in the “About” section on the website. It states the following:

Faithful to the teachings and tradition of the Church for over a century, we ensure that our readers know what to expect in each issue. Here are just some of the features of HPR:

  • First-rate articles by great Catholic writers on doctrine, spiritual guidance, morality and authentic pastoral practice
  • Deep insights into pressing pastoral issues of the Church’s life and mission
  • Stimulating homilies for Sundays and Holy Days by today’s outstanding preachers
  • Wise and practical answers to your questions from respected theologian and author Brian T. Mullady, OP

Built on the solid foundation of the Catholic Church, we espouse the timeless truths of faith that never change.

With regards to this, then, who is our intended audience? Primarily clergy who are homilists and involved in pastoral service to the Church, as well as catechists, religious educators, and interested Catholic laypersons and consecrated religious, as well as any intelligent reader.

Following this, how do I see HPR returning to its roots? What does HPR ressourcement look like? Well, first, it is my hope to put the focus on what Joseph Wagner, the founder of this periodical, wanted, namely a place for homilists to come and read some excellent homilies prepared by some extremely articulate and insightful clergy in order to help them in the preparation of their own homilies. Our homily section also provides all others an opportunity, please God, for spiritual edification and to prepare to hear the Word of God proclaimed at Holy Mass on Sundays and Solemnities.

Second, I would hope to continue to offer two of our most popular sections, our “Book Reviews” section, led by our Book Review Editor, Christopher Siuzdak, and our “Questions Answered” section, in which Fr. Brian Mullady, OP, continues to offer clear, concise answers to pastoral and theological questions posed to him by clergy, religious, and laity so that they can perform their pastoral duties with a clear understanding of what the Church teaches and why She teaches what She teaches.

Third, I am so pleased that we were able to offer again an HPR feature that had fallen by the wayside over the years, “Bishops’ Corner.” These articles, written by U.S. bishops, are an opportunity to learn what our bishops are thinking in the areas of pastoral ministry, preaching, priestly life, and catechesis. I was honored that His Eminence, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, graced us in our December edition with the very first of the “Bishops’ Corner” on the art of preaching. We look forward to publishing soon other “Bishops’ Corners” by His Excellency, the Most Reverend John Oliver Barres, the Bishop of Rockville Centre; His Excellency, the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop-Emeritus of Brooklyn; and His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services. In addition, it is my hope to return to one of the earliest features of HPR, “The Catechists’ Corner,” in which catechists and pastors can turn to aid in their evangelization and educational ministries and apostolates.

Fourth, we look forward to continue to publish articles that the Editors of HPR have solicited from authors as well as to continue to publish articles submitted to us for our consideration. A few things on this, though, that I feel have to be said in justice, truth, and fairness:

  1. We are a journal whose main goal is to offer busy clergy and other interested readers articles which inspire, educate, and edify them in their pastoral ministries.
  2. As such, we welcome theological pieces.
  3. However, we do not necessarily welcome term papers that were clearly submitted for classes (please recall my day job is to read such papers!) We do, however, wish to encourage authors to submit solid theological articles which can educate and inform our readers in their own vocations.
  4. We also are not a place for rants and have no interest, per se, in entering into “inter-ecclesial debates” or the “liturgy wars,” unless it is somehow relevant to the immediate pastoral ministry of the clergy, religious, and dedicated laity who make up the readership. We are not interested at all in becoming a place for unnecessary controversy. After all, that’s why Twitter was created! There are many, many other journals, both in print and online that love to focus to on all that and I think HPR is not the place for it. However, we will not shy away from articles that address important issues in the Church and the world and we do welcome these articles.
  5. Concerning the submission and the acceptance of articles, we certainly invite you to submit your articles to us. My editorial staff and I are happy to consider them. However, please note that we cannot accept every article submitted to us, even if you are a long-time author for HPR. Sometimes, my editorial staff and I might send an author back some of our theological critiques for you to consider when an author is called to do a resubmission. Sometimes, however, my editorial staff and I will reject an article. In addition, since the language we publish HPR in is English, my editorial staff and I ask potential authors to kindly proofread an article before sending it to us for submission. Simply and kindly put, please realize that just because a potential author submits an article to us doesn’t mean that it will be published in HPR.
  6. We also kindly remind potential authors that we plan way in advance, so if an author has a piece on a particular liturgical season, please send it to us in advance! Likewise, we also ask potential authors to please note that we have a backlog of accepted articles and to please be patient with HPR’s editorial staff and me as we are currently going through a great number of articles. Generally, the “wait-time” to hear back from us is about a month. Thanks for your patience!
  7. With all this being said, we do wish to hear from potential authors! We cannot do this apostolate without you! We also wish to hear comments in our replies after each of our articles.

Finally, I want to thank Fr. Meconi for offering me the opportunity to help guide HPR, “America’s foremost pastoral publication. Since 1900” into this new era. I also wish to thank Mr. Mark Brumley of Ignatius Press for his confidence and trust in my editorial staff and me. I know how blessed I am to have Sister Mary Micaela Hoffmann, RSM, as my assistant editor and S.E. Greydanus as my managing editor. I can assure you that when we meet weekly via Zoom, we always pray to God the Holy Spirit for guidance in our deliberations, so that we can always publish articles to build up the Mystical Body of Christ. Finally, I will to thank you, dear readers, for your love of the Lord and his Bride, the Church. After all, HPR exists to promote love and devotion to the Catholic Church, the People of God, and our pastoral apostolate to her. Please be certain of my prayers for you, especially at Holy Mass, and please note that on the first of every month, I will offer my Mass intention for all the readers, authors, and benefactors of Homiletic and Pastoral Review. In your kindness, please pray for me as well.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

Rev. John P. Cush, STD

Editor-in-Chief

Homiletic and Pastoral Review

Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College

  1. C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 1.
Rev. John P. Cush, STD About Rev. John P. Cush, STD

Fr. John P. Cush, the Editor-in-Chief of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, is a professor of Dogmatic Theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in the Archdiocese of New York. He is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Fr. Cush holds the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy. He is the author of The How-to-Book of Catholic Theology (OSV, 2020), Theology as Prayer (IPF, 2022) and is a contributor to Intellect, Affect, and God (Marquette University Press, 2021).

All comments posted at Homiletic and Pastoral Review are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative and inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.

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