Back to News Mount Welcomes Fr. Holtschneider as Grace Homilist

Mount Welcomes Fr. Holtschneider as Grace Homilist


Mount Saint Vincent’s commitment to both scholarly inquiry and service touches every dimension of the College’s life.

“Since our inception, we have lived the mission the Sisters of Charity entrusted to us,” said President Charles L. Flynn, Jr. “Like the Sisters of 150 years ago and the Sisters of today, we hold three fundamental values: a recognition of our common humanity, a commitment to human dignity, and a full appreciation of our obligations to each other. These are values of equality, dignity, and service. We believe they apply to every person, everywhere, always. This is the legacy of the Sisters of Charity at the College.”

The College of Mount Saint Vincent and the Sisters of Charity continue to celebrate their shared legacy on October 20, as they welcome Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D., as the 2019 Margaret F. Grace homilist.

Watch the 2019 Margaret F. Grace Homily

An author and educator, Fr. Holtschneider is the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and former president of DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university. Fr. Holtschneider has been honored widely for his work on a variety of issues—he holds eight honorary degrees, was listed among Diversity MBA Magazine’s “Top 100 under 50” for fostering Diverse Executive Leaders, and holds various recognitions for his work on national immigration reform.

A frequent speaker, consultant, and writer on issues facing colleges and universities, his highly-anticipated homily will accompany a Mass commemorating the rededication of the newly-restored Chapel of the Immaculate Conception—which has been undergoing extensive renovations since December—during the College’s Reunion and Homecoming Weekend.

Striving to illuminate ecumenism and social justice in the world today, the Margaret F. Grace lecturers and speakers have explored topics that embody the spirit and tradition of Vincent de Paul and Elizabeth Ann Seton. In recent years, the series has departed from its single-speaker format to feature panels of experts to discuss topics of relevance to Catholics.

The lecture series, subtitled “Where Do I Find Hope,” was established in 2001 by the late Margaret F. Grace, a Catholic lay leader and philanthropist who founded the Cardinal Suenens Center at John Carrol University in Cleveland, Ohio, to carry out the vision and priorities of the Second Vatican Council. And until 2015, when the Grace family invited the College to host the series, lectures were held at the Center and featured such noteworthy speakers as author and prison reformer Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.C.

When the series arrived at the Mount, the list of renowned panelists only grew. In its first year on campus, the College welcomed Robert Ellsberg, editor-in-chief and publisher of Orbis Books and a renowned authority on Dorothy Day; John L. Allen Jr., editor of Crux and a senior Vatican analyst for CNN; and Simone Campbell, S.S.S., a sister of the Catholic order of Sisters of Social Service, outspoken advocate of social justice, and a leader of interfaith interest groups working on behalf of the poor.

The following year, more experts enriched the lecture series, including James Turner Johnson, a distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Religion at Rutgers University, whose publications include Ethics and the Use of Force: Just War in Historical Perspective; Maryann Cusimano Love, a tenured associate professor of international relations at the Catholic University of America and expert on international security and peacebuilding; and Rev. John Dear, an internationally-recognized voice for peace and non-violence.

Margaret and her husband Peter Grace were longstanding benefactors of Mount Saint Vincent. Their son, Patrick Grace, a trustee emeritus, continues the tradition of generosity and service to the College, which is now further augmented by the honor of hosting the series.

A Detroit native, Fr. Holtschneider earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Niagara University in 1985, he studied for the priesthood at Mary Immaculate Seminary and was ordained in 1989, and he received a doctorate in administration, planning, and social policy in 1997 from Harvard University.

Prior to his current role with ACCU, he served as the eleventh president of DePaul University. He is also the chairman of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system, and has served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and ACCU, which he chaired from 2010 to 2012. He chairs the Niagara University Board of Trustees and the Institute of Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.

The Mass and Margaret F. Grace homily will be held in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday, October 20 at 12 p.m.

About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.