Homiletic & Pastoral Review, CWR’s sister publication, has announced that on Thursday, September 1, “a new team will assume leadership of Homiletic & Pastoral Review. HPR welcomes Rev. John P. Cush, STD, as Editor-in-Chief, with Sister Mary Micaela Hoffman, RSM, S.S.L., as Associate Editor. At the same time, we bid a fond farewell to our previous editor-in-chief, Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J., with deepest gratitude for his 12 years of service in this apostolate.” The notice also stated that “all matters pertaining to book reviews at HPR are now in the charge of our book review editor, Mr. Christopher Siuzdak.”
Fr. Cush is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. He serves as a full-time professor of Dogmatic Theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College, Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York. A native of Brooklyn, he has degrees from Saint John’s University (Jamaica, New York), the Pontifical North American College (Rome) and the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome). He has taught at several schools, is the author of The How-to-Book of Catholic Theology (Our Sunday Visitor, 2020), and has contributed a chapter, based on his doctoral dissertation, to Intellect, Affect, and God (Marquette University Press, 2021). He has two books on priestly formation forthcoming from Word on Fire Press and Institute of Priestly Formation Press.
He is also a regular contributor to The Tablet (Diocese of Brooklyn), The Evangelist (Diocese of Albany), Homiletic and Pastoral Review, National Catholic Register, and Church Life Journal from the University of Notre Dame. (A full bio can be read on the HPR site.)
Fr. Cush recently corresponded with Carl E. Olson, Editor of Catholic World Report, about his new work with HPR,
CWR: You’ve come full circle, in a way, having been raised in New York and now, after several years of study and teaching in Rome, being back at St. Joseph’s teaching. When and how did you first discern the call to the priesthood? Can you tell us a bit about your road to being ordained?
Fr. John P. Cush: I felt the call to priesthood at an early age and entered Cathedral Prep in Elmhurst, Queens, a diocesan high school (non-residential) where young men who were open to the possibility of a priestly vocation were welcome and taught by a faculty of diocesan priests, religious, and dedicated Catholic lay people. From there, I attended college at Saint John’s University in Queens, New York, while living and having priestly formation on the undergraduate level at Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, New York. After I completed my bachelor’s degree in New York, majoring in English and Philosophy, I was asked to attend the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, where I studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University for my bachelor’s degree, my licentiate, and my doctorate in Sacred Theology.
All along the way, I was inspired by the example of great priests who loved the Eucharist and the sacraments and that truly was my inspiration to become a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
CWR: Your studies have been in English, philosophy, and fundamental theology. What jumps out in your bio is that you are a teacher and you love to teach. Can you talk a bit about what teaching means to you? And how do you see that helping in your work with HPR?
Fr. John P. Cush: In 2004, I was assigned to teach at Cathedral Prep High School full-time and, over the years, I had taught English, Religions, Fine Arts, and Italian at all levels. At the same time, since ordination, I had been teaching in the Diocesan Pastoral Institute for Lay Formation, the Diocesan Diaconate Program, and the Diocesan Liturgical Formation Program. I love teaching and, besides Holy Mass and the Sacraments, never feel more alive as a priest than when I am in the classroom.
The Lord Jesus said, “Go and Teach All Nations,” and that is what I feel called to do. To serve as editor of HPR offers me the opportunity to facilitate the teaching of the truths of the faith on a much larger scale and I am grateful to God for this opportunity.
CWR: You’ve written many articles and have authored or co-authored three books that are very “HPR-ish” in nature. Can you tell us a bit about your published work?
Fr. John P. Cush: I was asked to write a book, which is an introduction to the study of theology for real beginners, The How-To-Book of Catholic Theology from Our Sunday Visitor Press. I had a wonderful time writing the text and, in many ways, it was the compilation of what I try to teach in my basic Introduction to Theology class to seminarians. The second publication was a summary of my doctoral dissertation from the Gregorian University in a festschrift honoring Robert Doran, SJ, entitled Intellect, Affect, and God. The Institute for Priestly Formation recently published a work called Theology as Prayer: A Primer for Diocesan Priests, which I worked on with a good priest friend of mine and a solid theologian, Msgr. Walter Oxley. Currently, I am working on a book with Word on Fire on Priestly Formation and Priestly Spirituality according to Bishop Robert Barron.
CWR: Who are some thinkers, theologians, and saints who have deeply influenced you as a Catholic, a priest, a teacher, and an author?
Fr. John P. Cush: For me, the work of the Ressourcement thinkers like de Lubac, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, Balthasar, Guardini, Congar, Danielou, Karl Adam, et al, have been very influential in my theological formation. Matthias J. Scheeben and Saint Thomas Aquinas have also become insightful guides to me in my theology, especially in recent years when I opened myself up to the great truth that they communicate throughout the centuries. Bernard Lonergan was the subject of my doctoral dissertation and his thought influences mine a bit.
In terms of contemporary theologians, Robert Imbelli, Thomas Guarino, Thomas Joseph White, Tracey Rowland, Matthew Levering, Robert Barron, Aidan Nichols, Lawrence Feingold, and Mauro Gagliardi are publishing some really great work and I am happy to use them in my classes.
My favorite saint is the greatest Doctor of the Church, Saint Therese of Lisieux, as well as Pope Saint John Paul II.
CWR: You’ve been writing for HPR for several years. Did that play a role in you being offered the position as editor of HPR? How did that come about?
Fr. John P. Cush: To be honest, I submitted a piece that was cut from my doctoral dissertation on Radical Orthodoxy to HPR and it was published. I struck up a good relationship with Fr. David Meconi, SJ, via e-mail, and began to do book reviews, homilies, and a few more theological articles. Around last March, Fr. Meconi e-mailed me that he was stepping down as editor of HPR and asked me if I would be interested in taking over for him. I was very honored to be asked and then sought the permission of my seminary’s rector, Bishop James Massa, my own Ordinary, Bishop Robert Brennan, and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, all of whom permitted me to say yes to Fr. Meconi’s request.
CWR: There is a strong historical connection between St. Joseph’s, where you are now teaching, and HPR. Can you tell readers a bit about that?
Fr. John P. Cush: Msgr. William Brady, who served as a professor of Sacred Theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie (Archdiocese of New York) was the very first editor of HPR at its foundation and remained as editor until 1916. From there, HPR has been blessed with editors who were Dominicans, Jesuits, Franciscans, and one other diocesan priest (Msgr. Vincent A. Yzermans for a very brief period in 1971).
For HPR to return to its place of birth as it nears its 125th Anniversary is a real blessing, and, as a professor of dogmatic theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, I am honored to keep the great tradition alive.
CWR: Many of our readers are very familiar with HPR. But how would you describe HPR to those who have never heard of it or read it? And how would you describe the core mission of HPR ?
Fr. John P. Cush: I really want to build on the great work of my two immediate predecessors, Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ, and Fr. David Meconi, SJ. As a Diocesan priest who is Jesuit trained, I am pleased to follow in their footsteps. HPR is meant to do what we said we do on our website and as a priest and as a theology professor, I am very honored to reiterate that:
Faithful to the teachings and tradition of the Church for over a century, we ensure that our readers know what to expect in each issue. Here are just some of the features of HPR:
• First-rate articles by great Catholic writers on doctrine, spiritual guidance, morality and authentic pastoral practice
• Deep insights into pressing pastoral issues of the Church’s life and mission
• Stimulating homilies for Sundays and Holy Days by today’s outstanding preachers
• Wise and practical answers to your questions from respected theologian and author Brian T. Mullady, OP
We don’t bend and sway with every passing fad. Built on the solid foundation of the Catholic Church, we espouse the timeless truths of faith that never change.
CWR: What can readers look forward to at HPR in the months and years to come?
Fr. John P. Cush: It is my goal to offer, along with the great collaboration of Christopher Suizdak, our Book Review Editor, S.E. Greydanus, our Managing Editor, and Sister Mary Micaela Hoffman, RSM, our Assistant Editor, as well as our Contributing Editor, Fr. Brian Mullady, OP, a place to which priests and deacons, laity and religious can turn and find good, solid, faithful Catholic homilies, articles, and inspiration to, as Saint Ignatius Loyola urged us “Ite Inflammate Omnes,” to set the world on fire with the beauty, truth, and goodness of the Catholic faith.
I am a teacher at heart and I want to teach the world the good news of who is Jesus Christ, He Who is the Kingdom of God Incarnate.
CWR: Any final thoughts?
Fr. John P. Cush: Please pray for me in my new assignments: as a professor of dogmatic theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (where I will also be serving as a faculty formation advisor for seminarians) as well as in my apostolate at HPR. Please also pray for my wonderful team at HPR as well as all our readers and benefactors, as well as the seminarians and students at Saint Joseph’s Seminary and College in the Archdiocese of New York.
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