Novak (novak) wrote,
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Theological Notebook: The Père Marquette Lecture

The theological event of the year at Marquette is tomorrow, when Marquette honours the retirement of one of our own--my advisor, Fr. David Coffey--with giving this year's Père Marquette Lecture. It's a series with considerable history, and it's a nice capstone for Fr. Coffey's career. Given the timing, I'm glad that they hadn't gone after a Vatican bigwig, which obviously would have thrown everything into chaos at the last minute.

He and I were walking around the campus for awhile yesterday afternoon after I finished up with Barnes' reading group, enjoying the sunshine, and talking. He seems rather tickled about the whole affair, and as merry as I've ever seen him. If he's like that during the lecture itself, we should all be in for a good time, as well as an engaging one. His title, "Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?" Some Basic Questions for Pneumatology, is a bit vague, but he sounds like he's onto something from his description of it to me, having discerned a certain lack of content in Yves Congar's theology of the Holy Spirit, the very fellow who put the Spirit "on the map" before the Second Vatican Council. I was, in fact, rather surprised with some of the lack of a real sense of who the Spirit is that Coffey summarized from Congar's work, so the talk should have a high applied-spirituality side to it, I should think.

Here's the poster for the whole shin-dig, which has been all over campus for weeks, and in America and other publications. I hope for a decent crowd. Now if only Fr. Coffey could take a picture where he didn't look entirely dour...:



The Reverend David Coffey has played a major role in the development and renewal of Pneumatology and Trinitarian theology in the period following the Second Vatican Council. He graduated as Dux in 1951 from St. Patrick’s College (Christian Brothers), Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia. In 1958, he received the License in Theology from the Catholic Institute of Sydney; and in the same year, he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney. He received the Doctor of Sacred Theology magna cum laude from the same institution in 1960, and was appointed to the faculty of the Catholic Institute of Sydney in 1962. During the period 1964-1966 he pursued further theological studies with Michael Schmaus and Karl Rahner at the University of Munich, Germany. Father Coffey returned to the Catholic Institute of Sydney in 1967, where he served as Dean of the Faculty from 1970-1975, and President of the Faculty from 1976-1981. In 1975, he became a founder of the Australian Catholic Theological Association, and served as the Association’s President in that year and again in 1990.

In 1989, Father Coffey came to St. Louis at the invitation of the Catholic Theological Society of America, where he gave a presentation on his research in the Trinity Seminar at the Society’s annual Convention. In 1991, he returned to the United States, this time to the University of St. Louis, where he served as Visiting Professor in the Aquinas Institute. In 1995, he accepted an appointment to the Presidential Chair at Marquette University, renamed in 1999 to the William J. Kelly, S.J. Chair in Catholic Theology.

Father Coffey’s areas of research and publication reflect the living concerns of the ecclesial communities within which he has practiced the theologian’s craft. Not surprisingly, his theological interests go to the very heart of the Christian faith: Pneumatology, Christology, the doctrine of the Trinity. These interests are reflected quite accurately in the titles of his four books: Grace: The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Catholic Institute of Sydney, 1979); Believer, Christian, Catholic, (Catholic Institute of Sydney, 1986); Deus Trinitas: The Doctrine of the Triune God, (Oxford University Press, 1999); and The Sacrament of Reconciliation, (Liturgical Press, 2001). His numerous articles range widely across these and related topics, and they have appeared in many books, as well as in such journals as: Australasian Catholic Record, Theological Studies, Irish Theological Quarterly, Faith and Culture, Colloquium, St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Philosophy and Theology, and the International Journal of Systematic Theology.

The occasion of this lecture also marks the end of Father Coffey’s tenure as the holder of the Kelly Chair at Marquette University. He will be sorely missed by those of us who have come to know and value him as a colleague and friend, as well as by the students who have benefited from his great learning and keen insight.

In the following essay, the reader will instantly discern the tight argumentation and intellectual tenacity that have marked Coffey’s work and made him a favorite among his peers. At the same time, even as he works to illuminate the Trinitarian realities of mutual love, appropriation, common action, and the like, one will observe his profound reverence for the mystery of the Triune God. As a guide for this exploration of the agency of the Holy Spirit, we could hardly ask for one with better knowledge of the terrain or a surer step than our own David Coffey. We thank him for taking us along on the journey.
Tags: books, coffey, conclave, john paul ii, marquette, mysticism/spirituality, personal, père marquette lecture, teachers, theological notebook, trinity
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