The Collegeville Institute is proud to name Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB as the 2021/22 Benedictine Resident Scholar. As the newly appointed Benedictine Resident Scholar, Fr. Columba will fully participate in the scholarly, communal, and worship life of the Resident Scholars program. Fr. Columba will be actively involved with the Resident Scholar seminars, including presenting his own research as prescribed through the program. As a professed Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey, he will serve as a resource for understanding Benedictine heritage, history, spirituality and current practice. In addition, he will serve as a resource for those scholars seeking pastoral support or information about local spiritual opportunities, and provide counsel and instruction to the Collegeville Institute staff.
Fr. Columba is the executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University. He holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard College, MA in Religious Studies from Yale University and DPhil from the University of Oxford, England, writing his thesis on Greek and Syriac asceticism. He professed monastic vows in 1982, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. In 1989, he joined the faculty of the graduate School of Theology and undergraduate Department of Theology at Saint John’s University.
He has published extensively in his research field of early Christian monasticism. Fr. Columba was named by the NEH as the 2019 Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. He has been featured on many national and international media outlets, including 60 Minutes, BBC World News, PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly as well as in The Economist, Smithsonian Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.
When asked to reflect on his experience as a Resident Scholar at the Collegeville Institute in the 2019/2020 and 2020/21 program years, Stewart wrote: “I’ve been a monk at Saint John’s Abbey for almost 40 years. At long last I could participate in the Resident Scholars’ program, resuming an earlier tradition of having a Benedictine in residence at the Collegeville Institute. It has given me space and time to keep my scholarly work going while still allowing me to participate in the life of my monastic community. Although I’m not technically on sabbatical or leave like typical scholars at the Collegeville Institute, I breathe the atmosphere of the place and find time to reflect, write, and share insights with the community. Weekly seminars and regular gatherings give me intellectual stimulation and personal support as I make my way in a rapidly changing world.”