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Passionist Spirituality and Leadership

by Bishop Paul M. Boyle, C.P.

The following comments are in response to a request that I share some things on four areas of my life.

Studies and Education

My early studies were all in Catholic schools in Detroit. At the end of my sophomore year in high school [St. Mary of Redford in Detroit] I entered the Passionist Seminary in Normandy, Missouri. There I finished high school and two years of college. I don't remember much about my education before the seminary but I doubt if studies played a big role in my life. My recollections are connected more with sports. In the seminary I found that most studies came easily to me and I enjoyed most of them. Scientific matters, however, were never easy or attractive for me. Courses in English literature and Liturgy were particularly interesting and rewarding.

After the novitiate, my college education continued for three more years with a major in philosophy in our Passionist Seminary in Detroit and then Des Moines. This was followed by four years of theology in our monasteries in Chicago and Louisville. For the most part we had excellent teachers who challenged us. Again I found the studies easy and enriching.

In 1953 I was ordained a priest and spent the next year in Sierra Madre, California studying the art and science of homiletic writing and speaking. Each weekend we would help out in parishes in the Los Angeles area, using what we had learned about preparing and delivering sermons. During this year of what was called "Sacred Eloquence" I was privileged to go with two of our seasoned missionaries for parish missions. I also preached a retreat at a local high school. The response to my efforts was deeply gratifying and I was filled with a longing to devote my energies full-time to this ministry.

Instead, at the end of the year of Sacred Eloquence I was assigned to go to Rome for graduate studies in Moral Theology and after that to study Canon Law. At that time Italy was just recovering from the devastation of war and life in our monastery was Spartan. My first year there was very difficult. Even classes at the Angelicum University [now St. Thomas University] were a disappointment as I felt that [with one exception] the professors I had in the seminary were at least as good and as challenging as those in the university.

After obtaining my degree in theology my next two years were at the Lateran University studying Canon Law. Most of my professors were outstanding and I found the classes very interesting. Two of my professors became Cardinals and others served important positions in the Holy See.

One afternoon a week during my three years in Rome I attended a course conducted by what was then called the Congregation for Religious. This was a wonderful experience and gave me a deep insight into the "mind" and practice of the Roman Curia. This, I believe, proved to be helpful for the rest of my life.

After returning to the United States I was assigned to teach in our theology seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and later in the Benedictine school of theology at St. Meinrad, Indiana. For three summers I attended Northwestern University, following a course in speech and drama. Two summers I went to St. John University, Collegeville, for workshops on Pastoral Counseling. Other summers I taught courses at St. Xavier College [now University] in Chicago.