Fr. Hanley appointed to North American College faculty

First slide

Arlington diocesan priest Father Daniel F. Hanley has been invited to join the faculty of the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome, where he plans to complete a doctorate in sacred theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas during a three-year term. He recently earned his licentiate from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.

It has been in his heart for years to plunge deeper into theology and to accompany men on their journey toward the priesthood, said Father Hanley during a May 30 interview. He said he is humbled and grateful that Arlington Bishop Paul. S. Loverde has given him the opportunity to do both.

As the new director of admissions at the NAC, the American seminary in Rome, Father Hanley will be a formation adviser, mentoring and accompanying seminarians and teaching the practical aspects of the priesthood, such as confessional practices and homiletics, or the art of preaching. He will live in community with the men, residing on one of the college hallways, which serve as smaller communities within the larger seminary.

"The biggest and most important part of my role there is to build relationships and a sense of community," said Father Hanley, who has lived at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More rectory in Arlington while studying in Washington.

With six Arlington seminarians studying at the NAC this fall, he will journey with would-be priests for both the U.S. and diocesan church.

While living at the college, he plans to attend the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, where he spent two years as a seminarian. There, he will continue his studies in Christology - the study of Jesus' life and humanity - for his doctoral dissertation.

It is a transformative gift to study theology, said Father Hanley, adding that when you investigate and ponder the life and humanity of Jesus, your prayer can't help but be affected.

Father Hanley writes in the Thomistic tradition, and he hopes to use the thought of St. Thomas in a way that engages modernity - "to show how very vital his theology is for today," he said.

Ordained by Bishop Loverde June 11, 2005, Father Hanley served as parochial vicar of St. Mary Church in Alexandria and St. James Church in Falls Church. While at St. James, he was asked to replace the late Brother David Eddy as Bishop Loverde's secretary, a post he held for two years before beginning his licentiate at the Dominican House. A licentiate - akin to a degree between a master's and doctorate - is an ecclesiastical degree, meaning it is related to service in the church. A licentiate in sacred theology essentially is a license to teach seminarians as well as others seeking a bachelor's degree in theology.

Throughout his two years of studies in Washington, Father Hanley celebrated weekday Masses at the cathedral and helped with Masses and confessions at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax on weekends.

Father Hanley said returning to school at the Dominican House in his early 40s was humbling. "You realize that the more you study and pray, the more you know less than you thought," he said, laughing. But it has been a gift to revisit the great minds he encountered in seminary.

"Sometimes seeing things in a deeper way for the second or third or fourth time - that helps you penetrate more deeply into the theology of the church," he said.

And his ongoing studies have opened his eyes even wider to the beauty of the Catholic faith.

"I have a real gratitude about the way that God has revealed Himself to us and the way He comes to us through revelation and His church," he said.

Father Hanley will spend about two weeks in Rome in July, then return to the states to wrap up loose ends and celebrate his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. He will return to Rome Aug. 10 to begin his studies and seminary responsibilities.

Father Hanley said he is eager to get to know the NAC seminarians, who he said seem joyful and prayerful, and the college faculty. And, he added, it is always a blessing to study in Rome - the heart of the church.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2014