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IMRI Awards 8 Pontifical Degrees

By Gloria Falcão Dodd

The final conferral of pontifical degrees from the International Marian Research Institute in affiliation with the Marianum in Rome took place on Monday, Aug. 9. Graduates are invited to participate in the December graduation exercises at the University of Dayton on Dec. 18. 


Elizabeth O'Bourke Acosta received her Licentiate of Sacred Theology, magna cum laude. Father Johann Roten, S.M., directed her thesis, “The Marian Theology of Saint Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) as Present in His Sermons with Special Attention Given to the Reading Cluny Collection.” A member of the Mariological Society of America, she will attend the 25th Congress of the Pontifical International Marian Academy (PAMI, or Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis).

Daniel Clough of Wynantskill, New York, received his Licentiate of Sacred Theology, cum laude. Father Thomas Thompson, S.M., directed his thesis, “St. Lawrence of Brindisi: Mary in the Psalms as Model of the Spiritual Life.” The editor of Genesis According to the Saints (Loreto Publications, 2016), Clough is an adjunct professor of theology at St. Joseph's College in Maine for courses in ecclesiology and Christology. He and his wife have three children.

Keith Isaac Akira Jiron received his Doctorate of Sacred Theology, summa cum laude, for his dissertation, “The Mariology of Saint Manuel González García (1877 - 1940),” directed by Deyanira Flores. Jiron is the executive director and co-founder of the Evangelium Institute, providing adult faith formation in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska. He and his wife have four sons.

Richard Lenar of Indianapolis earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology, magna cum laude. His dissertation, “With the Bohoroditsa and Her Pokrov to Liberation: A Continuing Marian Presence in the History and Devotion of the Ukrainian Catholic Diaspora," was directed by Thompson. Funded by a grant from the Clinton Fund of the Mariological Society of America, Lenar is working with the Marian Library at the University of Dayton to process Ukrainian materials and make them accessible to the scholarly community.

Father Emmanuel Fale Lon of the Diocese of Kumbo, Cameroon, received his Doctorate of Sacred Theology degree, magna cum laude. Roten directed his dissertation, “The Pace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, in the History and Mission of the Catholic Church in (Anglophone) Cameroon: 1890-2020.” Fale is a diocesan coordinator of ongoing formation of priests, as well as rector of St. Aloysius’ Minor Seminary (SAMS) in Kitiwum, Diocese of Kumbo, Cameroon.

Father Simon Mary (Nicholas) Maroney, M.Carm., of Cody, Wyoming, received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology, summa cum laude. His dissertation, “Mary, Summa Contemplatrix, in Denis the Carthusian," was directed by Flores. Maroney offers initial and ongoing formation to his cloistered Carmelite community, popularly known for its Mystic Monk Coffee. Maroney is studying for a doctorate of canon law at the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada.

Brother Jose I. Iglesia Puig, S.M., of Piastów, Poland, earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology, summa cum laude, writing his doctoral dissertation about a Polish painter and thinker — “La Madre de Dios en el Pensamiento y la Obra de Jerzy Nowosielski. Su Aportación a la Via Pulchritudinis" ("The Mother of God in the Thought and Work of Jerzy Nowosielski. His Contribution to the Way of Beauty") — under Roten’s direction. Puig teaches Christian religious education at the Polish Marian Sodality Primary and Secondary School in Warsaw, Poland. He also is the director of the Polish Marian Sodality Formation Center. A member of the Mariological Society of America, he leads retreats and conferences about Christian faith and art.

Maria Amelia Volz of Salem, Oregon, received her Licentiate of Sacred Theology, magna cum laude. Gloria Falcão Dodd directed her thesis, “The Marian Dimensions of Hokmah/Sophia: Integrating Exegesis and Theology 1954-2013." Volz is a member of the Mariological Society of America. She has taught faith formation, Montessori, general education for English-language learners, and Kolbe Academy home education. She plans to teach faith formation and theology and pursue further research on the Marian typology of personified Wisdom.

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