MACON – Dr. Peter Phan, Ellacuría Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, will deliver Mercer University’s 29th annual Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religion Lectures Feb. 18-19 in Newton Chapel on the Macon campus.
Dr. Phan will present three lectures on the theme “Christian Theology in Migration.” The series opens on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 10:50 a.m. with “God the Primordial Migrant,” followed by “Jesus the Paradigmatic Migrant” at 7:30 p.m. The closing lecture, “The Holy Spirit, the Power of Migration, in the Church as a Community of Migrants,” will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb 19.
The series, co-sponsored by the Office of the President and the Columbus Roberts Department of Religion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is free and open to the public.
“Peter Phan’s vocation as a teaching theologian blossoms beyond the classroom and study. His deep commitments to social justice and interreligious dialogue put him in the center of practical theology,” said Dr. Richard Wilson, Columbus Roberts Professor of Theology and chair of the Department of Religion.
Dr. Phan was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1975. He has earned three doctoral degrees: the Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Universitas Pontificia Salesiana in Rome, and the Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Divinity from the University of London. He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Theology from Chicago Theological Union and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College of Our Lady of the Elms.
In addition to Georgetown, he has taught at the University of Dallas, the Catholic University of America, Union Theological Seminary, Elms College and St. Norbert College.
He was the first non-Anglo to be elected president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, and in 2010, he was given the John Courtney Murray Award, the society’s highest honor, in recognition for outstanding and distinguished achievement in theology.
His publications range far and wide in theology, including topics such as the theology of icons in Orthodox theology, patristic theology, eschatology, the history of mission in Asia, and liberation, inculturation and interreligious dialogue. He has edited some 20 volumes, and his many award-winning writings have been translated into Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Vietnamese.
He is general editor of a multi-volume series, titled Theology in Global Perspective, for Orbis Books, as well as a multi-volume series, titled Ethnic American Pastoral Spirituality, for Paulist Press.
The Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professorship was established in 1990 after Dr. and Mrs. Harry Vaughan Smith made a major gift to Mercer to underwrite a visiting professorship and lecture series in the Department of Religion.
The gift bears witness to the lifelong commitment of the late Dr. Smith to the University, which began when he enrolled as a freshman in 1920. A 1924 graduate, Dr. Smith served as pastor of several prominent churches in Georgia before becoming alumni secretary and assistant to the president at Mercer in 1946, a post he held until 1955. From 1955-1970, he distinguished himself as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Foundation. In his many years of service, Dr. Smith was a faithful worker on behalf of all Georgia Baptist causes, but he always maintained a special interest in the University and the cause of Christian higher education.