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Meet Our Chancellor and President-Rector

by | Apr 3, 2024

Meet Our Chancellor and President-Rector

Pictured: Very Reverend Martin Rooney, M.S.A., Chancellor (left), and Very Reverend Peter Kucer, M.S.A., President-Rector (right)

Fr. Martin Rooney, M.S.A., Chancellor

Growing up in Palisades Park, New Jersey, the Very Reverend Martin Rooney, M.S.A., Chancellor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, first came to Holy Apostles as an unsponsored seminarian. During his initial year, after looking into other communities, Fr. Martin decided that the Missionaries of the Holy Apostles was the order best suited for him. He earned his MDiv (Master of Divinity) in 1995.

Following training at Yale New Haven Hospital to become a hospital chaplain, Fr. Martin spent almost twenty years at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in New Jersey before moving to Bon Secours Charity Health System in New York. Currently working there one or two days a week since being elected Provincial Animator, he handles “mission”, ensuring the Catholic values are being lived out throughout the healthcare system. Also important for him is ensuring that the legacy of the sisters who sponsor Bon Secours Charity Health System, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth and the Sisters of Bon Secours, is lived out.

On weekends, he acts as an assistant at St. Gabriel’s Parish in Saddle River.

You have been the Chancellor of Holy Apostles since 2021. Can you tell us about your responsibilities in this role?

As Chancellor of the college and seminary, it’s my responsibility to ensure the fidelity of its theological, moral, philosophical, canonical, and other religious instruction to the teachings of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. The faculty take the Oath of Fidelity and Profession of Faith at the start of the academic year as one example of this commitment.

You are also the Provincial Animator of the Missionaries of the Holy Apostles. The term Provincial Animator is one that is not usually used. Can you explain what it means?

Usually, the position is called Superior of the Provincial or the Provincial Superior. Our founder, Fr. Menard, thought it was important to add the word “Animator” after Provincial because that’s the ministry. I am supposed to animate the community within the charism and mission of our founder, Fr. Menard. So, it means being there when there are issues but to be animator and mediator.

As someone who speaks to many beyond Holy Apostles, how do you see the college’s public persona? What is the impression of those you speak with about HACS?

It’s interesting because when I’m out and about, and I mention Holy Apostles College and Seminary, it amazes me how many people have taken courses online. In New Jersey and other areas, people will say to me, “Oh, I took a course there”, or “I did my degree there.” From what I hear, they really like the courses and professors, and our faithfulness to Catholic teaching. It’s a testament to the college and seminary.

There are a number of options – Theology, Philosophy, certificate programs – are all attractive. As we add more majors we’re excited about the future.

I have said this publicly before – I am grateful to the former President-Rector Fr. Mosey, and his staff at the time, for making the decision in 2012 to go online because during Covid many small colleges went out of business trying to adapt but we just moved along. We would not be where we are today if it was not for that strong foundation. Similarly, I am excited about Fr. Peter Kucer’s current vision for both the college and seminary and the great work being done to establish new programs and impactful initiatives moving us forward.

You have a variety of responsibilities in your roles as Provincial Animator, Chancellor, and in hospital ministry. How do you handle all of it?

Each responsibility is different but that’s a good thing. When we talk about the priesthood, we tend to pigeonhole it to one thing, such as leading a parish. There are so many different options: education, hospitals, and different roles even within the parish. You can become a priest and be involved in other ministries beyond the parish.

Fr. Peter Kucer, M.S.A., President-Rector

As President-Rector of Holy Apostles College & Seminary, the Very Reverend Peter Kucer, M.S.A., is tasked with moving the college and seminary forward while ensuring continued academic rigor and a curriculum grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

A graduate of Holy Apostles, with an MDiv in 2001 and MA in Theology in 2002, he is keenly aware of the significance of a traditionally Catholic education and formation, and how it strengthened his vocation to the priesthood. His desire for those attending Holy Apostles, whether lay student, seminarian, or consecrated religious, is that they obtain a strong academic Catholic education and formation that supports their career path, their vocation, and their personal and spiritual growth.

As the eighth chief executive officer at Holy Apostles, Fr. Peter assumed the role in 2019 that was previously held by Fr. Douglas Mosey, C.S.B, from 1996 until his retirement. Fr. Peter’s work with Holy Apostles began several years earlier, though. Upon receiving his doctorate in 2012 from Catholic University, he was the temporary administrator at St. Joseph’s Parish in Chester, Connecticut, while working part-time as an adjunct teacher at Holy Apostles. In 2013, he accepted a full-time position at the college as an instructor and priest formator. Fr. Peter then became interim academic dean in 2014, as well as an assistant professor, followed by a promotion to permanent academic dean.

To learn a bit more about Fr. Peter, from his personal interests to thoughts about the college, a few questions were asked.

On campus, students and staff have observed that you are a skilled musician. Tell us what influenced your interest in music.

Well, my father was an accomplished musician and, growing up, music was always around me. I learned the violin at an early age and continue to play today. I enjoy it, as well as singing, and have had the opportunity to perform here at college events. It gives me a chance to share my musical skills with the faculty and student music group on campus who are quite talented. During Advent I enjoyed performing “Lo How a Rose E’re Blooming” in a Christmas email greeting. Hopefully, I can do more in the future.

What is new at Holy Apostles, and what is your vision for the direction of the college and seminary?

The college has established new programs including a Master of Sacred Scripture and Master of Divinity in the New Evangelization for our online students. Holy Apostles is a global community with our professors and students representing fifty-one countries. We look forward to broadening our international outreach that has its origins in the mission of the Twelve Apostles who were sent out by Jesus to evangelize the world. Jesus commanded the Apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. (Matthew 28:19)

Knowing that alumni and friends of Holy Apostles are important to you, what are your plans for connecting with these constituencies in 2024?

Looking at the future activities of the college, one of my priorities is to increase our events and outreach, and other opportunities that allow me to connect further with our alumni and friends of Holy Apostles. Holy Apostles has an exceptional group of alumni, both priests and laity. We also have a special community of students, faculty, and long-time supporters and my goal is to continue to strengthen those relationships.

I look forward to more opportunities to reach out through campus events, webinars, and our monthly newsletter. These are people who understand and support our mission and vision. Their evangelization brings the faith beyond Cromwell, to all areas of the world. From here, not only the message about the college and seminary spreads, but the message of Christ. In the meantime, our community of alumni and friends are remembered during weekly Masses at Holy Apostles.