Following the convention, the proceedings are published in Marian Studies, along with reports from the secretary,
treasurer and regional units. A current membership roster/directory is also included.
Marian Studies is the primary publication of the MSA. This annual contains the proceedings of the national convention
(held in late May or early June).
Libraries, institutions and non-members may subscribe to or purchase Marian Studies. Individuals: $15.00;
Institutions (USA): $18.00; or Institutions (Foreign): $22.00.
Some back issues of Marian Studies are still available. Those interested should contact the MSA Secretariat for
Payment for Marian Studies must be made in U.S. currency. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Mariological
Society of America.
units of the MSA share the same goals as the national organization but
are organizationally independent. Meetings of regional units are
frequently pastoral in tone and content. Areas in which regional units
are currently active are: New England (Rhode Island) and the West Coast
(San Francisco area). Additional information may be obtained from the
MSA's executive secretary.
$18.00 Active (Professional) Member
$15.00 Associate Member
A Supporting Member contributes $25.00 or more annually.
Patron contributes $100.00 or more annually.
Seminarians and retired persons (who were members of the Society) may
pay a reduced annual fee of $12.00.
Payment of dues must be in U.S. currency. Checks or money orders should be made out to the Mariological Society of America.
All members receive a copy of Marian Studies
THE CARDINAL JOHN J. WRIGHT MARIOLOGICAL AWARD
award is conferred in memory of Cardinal John J. Wright, long-time MSA
member and its episcopal chairman from 1951 until his death in 1979. As
defined by the Board of Directors in 1991, the award is given, upon
recommendation of a designated three-member committee, to recognize and
encourage significant publications on the Virgin Mary. Its recipient
need not be a member of the MSA.
Fifty Years of the Mariological Society of America, 1949-1999
Juniper Carol, O.F.M., founded the Mariological Society of America in
Washington, D.C., 1949. But the inspiration for the foundation goes
back ten years earlier, when four young priests, then studying at Rome,
gathered in Fr. Juniper's room in the Antonianum, the Franciscan
college, and, as one later remembered, "planned what we could do for
the glory of the Virgin Mary." Shortly after that meeting in 1939,
World War II began in Europe, and the priests had to return to their
own countries. Fr. Gabriel Roschini, O.S.M., remained at Rome and
founded the Marianum, which is the name both for the pontifical school
of theology and for the prestigious journal of Marian theology. Fr.
Narciso Garcia Garces, C.M.F., founded the Spanish Mariological Society
(1941) and the journal Ephemerides Mariologicae (1951). Fr. Paul Strater returned to Germany and edited a three-volume
work on the Blessed Virgin. In 1949, Fr. Juniper Carol founded the Mariological Society of America.
The first issue of Marian Studies
records the events which led to that initial meeting. Father Juniper
Carol, O.F.M., called a preparatory meeting on October 11, 1949, feast
of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the library of Holy
Name College, Washington, D.C. Those present favored the formation of a
society to be devoted to "the furtherance of that section of sacred
theology which deals with our Lady." After receiving the approval of
the Archbishop of Washington, and drawing up a constitution (still in
use today), the first meeting took place on Tuesday, January 3, 1950,
in the McMahon Hall Auditorium of the Catholic University of America.
"The first official act of the Society, immediately after the approval
of the constitution, was to adopt a resolution, that a humble message
be submitted to our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, through his worthy
representative in this country, assuring His Holiness of the
unconditional loyalty and loving attachment of the members of the
Mariological Society of America toward the Vicar of Christ on earth . .
.." At the end of the session, those present signed the newly adopted
constitution and became known as charter members of the Mariological
Society of America."
At the invitation of Bishop John J.
Wright, the second meeting took place at Worcester, Massachusetts.
Bishop Wright's conference was entitled "Mariology in the
English-speaking World." This meeting began a long association between
the Mariological Society and Bishop Wright, who later became the
Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. In 1969, the
Society's Mariological Award was renamed the Cardinal Wright
A survey of the themes and
presidential addresses given at the Society's annual meetings is one
way of tracing the Society's history. The first ten years of the
Society's meetings were devoted to the study of Our Lady's privileges:
Co-redemption, Spiritual Maternity, Queenship, Immaculate Conception,
Divine Maternity, Virginity, Our Lady's Death, Mary and the Church, the
Fundamental Principle of Mariology. At the 1961 meeting, Fr. Walter
Burghardt, S.J. cited Fr. Rene Laurentin's description of the first ten
volumes of Marian Studies
as "clear, objective, flawlessly documented . . . on the whole erudite,
solid and balanced." What more should be done? Fr. Burghardt suggested
that the Society undertake "research in its proper sense." Rather than
repeat what is already available, he said, Mariologists should "plumb
the depths of a Marian problem until the divine dream for our
redemption lies a little more apparent to us."
If the Society appeared to be
searching for a future agenda in the early 1960s, little did it realize
that the upcoming Vatican II and the winds of change which accompanied
it would provide a full plate of issues to be addressed at meetings of
the Society. Already in 1962, Fr. Burghardt said that "the temper of
our times is ecumenical." Since the Catholic vision of Mary is perhaps
the greatest challenge in ecumenical dialogue, Fr. Burghardt suggested
that "the Theological effort from the Catholic side must center on the
problem of development."
In the 1960s, the focus of the
meetings changed from doctrine to Scripture. There were also
conferences on Mary and ecumenism, and, since Scripture scholars were
considering Mary's virginity, there were also conferences on that
topic. In the early 1960s, no one imagined how deliberations of Vatican
II would cause such upheaval in the Church in the United States,
especially in areas related to Marian devotion. In 1964, Fr. Edward
O'Connor, C.S.C., spoke of the negative effects which "the critical
spirit" was having on Marian piety and belief. The advent of the higher
criticism in Catholic biblical circles appeared especially directed to
the texts related to Mary: the Infancy narratives, and, in the Old
Testament, the story of Adam, Eve and the Serpent. "No other sphere of
theology is so sensitive to the confrontation of the Catholic with the
critical spirit, as the Mariological." In 1967, Fr. William Most
sounded an even more ominous warning: "We are living in a time when one
could hardly name any important dogmatic error that is not taught
within the Catholic Church. In 1970, Fr. Alban B. Maguire, O.F.M.,
noted the diminution of Marian devotion which had occurred since the
Council: "The five years since Lumen Gentium
seem like a century and the memory of what took place may become a
little blurred. In spite of the assurances of the Fathers, there are
many who continue to insist that the Council played down our Lady's
role in the Church . . . There can be no doubt that devotion to Mary
has diminished since the Council, yet it would be well for us not to
assign causes for this until we have weighed the phenomenon more
In the 1971 presidential address,
Msgr. (later Bishop) Austin Vaughan of New York well described the
tension between the traditional Mariology and the theology of Vatican
II. The council stressed ecumenism, whereas Mariology represented the
doctrines which were most unacceptable to non-Catholics. In its
liturgical reforms, Vatican II stressed the uniqueness of Christ as our
Redeemer and Mediator; Marian devotion seemed to divert attention to
Mary and the saints. Vatican II gave special importance to the
liturgical prayer (Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours); most Marian
devotions seemed non-liturgical (rosary, novenas, processions,
shrines). Vatican II urged the involvement of the faithful in the work
of sanctifying the world and promoting human development, justice and
peace, whereas traditional devotion to Mary--prayer, recollection, and
intercession--seemed to lack a social commitment or active involvement.
In 1972, Fr. Charles Neumann, S.M.,
urged a broadening of focus and a less introspective approach. He cited
the eminent Belgian theologian, Msgr. Gerard Philips, who said,
"Authentic Mariology runs no risk of fading away; within an enlarged
synthesis it will command attention even more forcefully than in the
past. A crisis can become beneficial, like a thunderstorm that clears
the atmosphere and enables us to breathe a purer air." He concluded
with the words of Sir Kenneth Clark (in his Civilization
television series): "There is no reason to be discouraged . . .Lack of
confidence, more than anything else . . . kills a civilization. We can
destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion just as effectively as by
At the Silver Jubilee Meeting, 1974, a letter was read from Archbishop Jean Jadot, the apostolic delegate, congratulating
the members for their contributions to the Pastoral Letter Behold Your Mother.
At this meeting, Fr. Neumann once more urged a greater confidence in
the future. "Is part of our trouble not precisely the impression that
to Mary and things Marian there too readily clings the image of a past
which older persons regret losing, while the younger feel little
attraction to something portrayed simply as a past now apparently
slipping from grasp?"
defending a grasp of something of the mystery of Mary attained in the
past may not always accomplish as much as allowing time for something
of that same mystery to dawn on persons who have not had the chance to
live in or know the past and who, as do we all, delight more in
discovering for themselves than in being taught by others."
After the twenty-fifth anniversary,
the format for the meetings included a variety of topics at each
meeting. In 1976, Fr. George F. Kirwin, O.M.I. , spoke of the challenge
which the secular outlook poses for all theologians, but especially for
the Marian theologians. At the 1977 meeting, Fr. Fred Jelly, O.P.,
urged that the Society be more mindful of the role of catechesis and of
the hermeneutics of the Marian dogmas. At the 1978 meeting, Fr. Jelly
suggested that more attention be given to the ecumenical role of Mary
and that the special relation between Mary and the Holy Spirit be
In his two presidential addresses
(1981, 1982) Fr. Roger M. Charest, S.M.M., urged that Mariology not
become too abstract. What was necessary was the sense of Mary's
presence in the Church. "The more one listens to Pope John Paul II in
the light of his Marian approach to the mystery of Christ and His
Church, the more one is inclined to describe it as a Mariology based on
a Marian Presence, a presence of the Mother of God in our midst. Pope
John Paul obviously believes that a Mariology which deals only with
theories and abstractions has very little appeal for the so-called
'average' person. On the other hand, a Mariology based on a real
presence--the presence of a mother in the midst of her children--is a
dynamic force with an irresistible appeal." The next year, he urged the
members not to let the organization become a debating society. " Let
[our studies] be dynamic and life-giving, as dynamic and life-giving as
the Mother of God herself. . . . .Doctrine and devotion must go hand in
hand. Doctrine without devotion is like faith without good works. And
devotion without doctrine is like works without faith."
Perhaps the most-sought issue of Marian Studies was the 1986 one which was a summary and analysis of the sections
of chapter eight of Lumen Gentium,
with an appendix containing the original (1962) schema dealing with the
Virgin Mary, the final Latin text showing the original draft and
consequent revisions of the text, together with a new English
From 1990 to 1992, the Society made
amends for its previous lack of attention to liturgy by devoting three
programs to "Mary in the Liturgical Year" -- the Advent-Christmas
season (1990), the Lent-Easter season (1991), and Ordinary Time (1992).
The 1994 program on Mary and religious education presented the results
of a survey of the attitudes towards the Virgin Mary from 2,000 high
school and college students; also, at that meeting, the results of a
survey on the teaching of Marian topics in Catholic seminaries and
colleges were given.
The meetings of the 1990s show that
the Society was trying to explore the influence of Mary on new topics
such as popular devotion, inculturation, the interreligious dialogue,
ecumenism, and art. At the 1995 meeting, Fr. Walter T. Brennan, O.S.M.,
spoke of the need to use the contemporary cultural symbols to express
the meaning of the Gospel today as well as the truths concerning the
Virgin Mary. At the 1996 meeting on Marian spirituality and the
interreligous dialogue, Fr. Brennan spoke of the need for knowing the
great religions of the world in order to express Gospel realities and
"for enhancing the understanding of symbols in Marian theology."
The 1997 meeting, a response to Pope John Paul II's encyclical That All May be One,
began with an address from Msgr. John A. Radano of the Pontifical
Council for Promotion of Christian Unity on the ecumenical and Marian
dimensions of the preparation for the Great Jubilee 2000. At that
meeting, Fr. George Kirwin, O.M.I., reminded the members that "in
ecumenical dialogue, our motivation is not to prove that we are
correct, not to win the argument, certainly not to prove another wrong.
In love, one seeks only the truth--God's truth wrapped in mystery."
At the 1998 program on Marian art,
Fr. Kirwin compared Mary's confidence that God could bring fruitfulness
out of barrenness, to the sense of hope which Christian art should
impart: "That sense of hope, however it is portrayed, is the artist's
gift to us."
"Magnificat: Remembrance and
Praise" was the theme of the 1999 Fiftieth Anniversary meeting. One day
was devoted to a review of the Society's history and the contributions
it has offered to the Church. The second day was devoted to the study
of Mary's Magnificat. A special guest at the fiftieth anniversary
meeting was Fr. Aristide Serra, O.S.M., from Rome's Marianum, who spoke
on the origins of the Magnificat as found in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The topics covered in the fifty volumes of Marian Studies
illustrate the adage "Mariology stands at the crossroads." From an
exclusively doctrinal approach at the Society's beginnings, the
meetings have explored the relation of Marian devotion and spirituality
to Scripture, ecumenism, liturgy, catechesis, ecclesiology, popular
devotion, interreligious dialogue, and religious art. For the past
fifty years, the Society has been faithful to its founding purpose to
illustrate the gifts of God to the Virgin Mary, and, through her, to
all humanity. It has persevered in this work, convinced that the
mystery of God's love and beauty present in the Virgin Mary can never
Before Vatican Council II, many
national Mariological societies were founded: Belgium (1931), France
(1934), Spain (1940), Portugual (1945), Canada (1949), Mexico (1954),
Poland and Colombia (1959). Only the French, Spanish, and American
societies continue to meet regularly and publish their proceedings.
Fortunately, in recent years, new Mariological societies have begun in
Italy, Poland, and Germany. Since 1979, the Mariological Society of
America has been based at the Marian Library of the University of
For more information contact:
MARIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA
c/o The Marian Library
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH 45469-1390
(937) 229-4294 ffff FAX (937) 229-4258