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IMRI Grants Five Degrees

By Gloria Falcão Dodd

The University of Dayton Spring 2021 Commencement was held in person once again with the appropriate safety protocols. Two of the five graduates of the International Marian Research Institute were able to participate in the ceremony held at the University of Dayton Arena on May 7, 2021.

Father Henry M. Sseriiso of Alta Loma, California, received his Doctorate of Sacred Theology degree magna cum laude. Father Johann Roten, S.M., directed his dissertation, “The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life and the Writings of Father Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) in the Light of the Mariology of the Second Vatican Council and Subsequent Developments.” The author of two books — The Patron Saints of Forgiveness and Once a Sinner, Now a Saint — Sseriiso has also recorded the album Pray for Peace. Originally from Uganda, Sseriiso continues to serve as the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the Diocese of San Bernardino, California.

James R. Koelsch of Mentor, Ohio, earned the Doctorate of Sacred Theology degree summa cum laude. Father Bertrand Buby, S.M., directed his dissertation, “The Magnificat as a Model for Witness in the New Evangelization in Light of Papal Teaching Since Vatican II.” Koelsch is a freelance writer and assistant editor for Marian Studies, the journal of the Mariological Society of America. He is also designing an introductory course about Mary for the international online program of the University of Dayton's Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.

Stuart Alan Schafer and his wife, Lisa, flew in from San Pedro, California, to celebrate his graduation with the Doctorate of Sacred Theology, summa cum laude. Buby directed Schafer in his dissertation, “The Theology Behind Marian Ark of the Covenant Typology of the First Millennium.”

Father Rayar “R.K.” Kulandaisamy earned the Doctorate of Sacred Theology degree magna cum laude. His dissertation, directed by Roten, is “Vailankanni: A Marian Shrine in a Multi-Cultural and Multi-Religious Mileu, Toward a Model Theology for Vailankanni.” The author of The Marian Dimension in Post-Conciliar Theology with a Particular Focus on Some Christologies and Ecclesiologies and Mary in Our Search for Fullness of Life, he also has written two more books on Mary, the Exemplar of Faith Alone and Mary the Exemplar of Grace Alone. Among his many initiatives in the Catholic Church, Kulandaisamy supports venture capital for ministries and is well-respected in both thinking forums and in parish life. He is currently a parish priest in the Diocese of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India, and teaches at St Paul's Major Seminary in Tiruchirappalli, India. He is also the founder of the Mariological Society of India.

Marie-Louise Handal of New York City earned the Licentiate of Sacred Theology degree summa cum laude. Father Thomas Thompson, S.M., directed her thesis, "The Poetry of St. John Henry Newman: Evolution of Mary’s Image 1822–1890 and Its Theological Implications.” Her continuing research on Newman has supported her media-oriented apostolate in affiliation with the Daughters of St. Paul. She is a promised member of the International Association of Pauline Cooperators and has organized Pauline Family retreats, media presentations and educational programs in the New York Archdiocese and environs. Handal lives in Manhattan, where she is a writer and adult education teacher in a program for health care workers who are returning to school after many years. She plans to continue her studies for the Doctorate of Sacred Theology.

—Gloria Falcão Dodd is the director of academic programs for the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. 


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