New Mount president acknowledges its history, his own at West Point

EMMITSBURG – With trumpets, music and prayers to Mary, Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary welcomed its 26th president Oct. 23.

Timothy E. Trainor placed his hand on the Book of Gospels to make his profession of faith and oath of fidelity during a morning Mass at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, a graduate of the Mount seminary, called the day “a very happy and very blessed occasion for Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary.”

Before coming to the Mount as interim president in August 2016, Trainor served 33 years in the U.S. Army. Most recently he was dean and chief academic officer at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Father Matthew P. Pawlikowski, chaplain at West Point and homilist at Mass, exhorted those in the packed chapel to be warriors for Christ.

Mount St. Mary’s is developing soldiers to counter an ongoing culture war that pits faith against reason, Father Pawlikowski said. It’s a conflict he said he didn’t understand, since some of history’s greatest scientists were Catholic, including Nicolaus Copernicus; Gregor Mendel; Monsignor George Le Maitre, who first proposed the “Big Bang Theory”; and Jesuits who studied seismology.

Archbishop William E. Lori, who attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, officiated at an Oct. 23 Mass celebrating the inauguration of Timothy Trainor as president of Mount St. Mary’s University. (Courtesy Mary Kate Battles/ Mount St. Mary’s University )

“We need soldiers and we need good ones,” Father Pawlikowski said.

Paraphrasing Mary’s words in Cana, he said, “‘Do whatever Jesus tells you. That’s the weapon of Mary.”

In afternoon ceremonies at Knott Arena, other college presidents, government officials and Mount representatives offered best wishes and pledged their support to the new president.

“Together we will make the Mount a better place,” said Naomi Frederick Ruth, chairwoman of the Staff Affairs Committee.

Mary D. Kane, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, presided over the investiture. Trainor was presented with three artifacts representing his office: a crucifix Pope Pius VI gave to Father John DuBois, who in 1808 established Mount St. Mary’s; the mace, a traditional academic symbol created for the Mount’s 1908 centennial; and the silver medallion designed for the university’s 175th anniversary in 1983.

Archbishop Lori blessed the objects as they were presented to Trainor.

In his address, Trainor invoked the names of “Mountaineers” who made history, including John Hughes, first Archbishop of New York; Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town; and Bill Magee Jr., who founded Operation Smile.

A banner for Mount seminary alumnus Father Stanley Rother hung outside the chapel for the priest who was killed in Guatemala in 1981. Trainor referred to his Sept. 23 beatification.

“However, I believe that the most significant history regarding the Mount is yet to be written. It will be created by our current and future students and seminarians,” he said.

Trainor said the strategic plan for 2018-23 identified three top priorities: student success, a faith- and values-based campus, and financial sustainability.

The inauguration of Timothy Trainor, right, as president of Mount St. Mary’s University included several members of his family. Shown in the front, from left, are his brother, James; his son, Zack, a student at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and his wife, Donna. (Courtesy  Andrew McDonald/ Mount St. Mary’s University)

“We will continue to evolve our curriculum to ensure it remains the most relevant in preparing our students for the future,” he said.

He also pledged a campus where everyone will be treated with dignity and respect and an environment free of sexual assault and harassment.

“There is no place for the violence and hatred spewed by neo-Nazi, white supremacy and similarly minded groups,” Trainor said.

“The Mount is an exciting place to be now, and we are poised to create the success stories that will become the next 200 years of our history,” Trainor said, concluding his remarks.

Before concluding with the Mount’s Alma Mater, the Quadrivium Brass and University Chorale sang the Alma Mater of West Point, where Trainor, his wife and two of their children are graduates. Along with others, they stood at attention and shouted “Beat Navy” when it ended.

Their third child, Zack, currently attends West Point. While he made Monday’s ceremonies, his brother, Danny, and sister, Cory, were in Puerto Rico helping the hurricane relief effort. Trainor’s mother, Janet; his sister, Kathy; and his brother, James were also on hand.

“We share Tim’s exuberance over being named president of the university,” said James Trainor, who recalled conversations with his brother when he was considering coming to Emmitsburg. “He felt called to it, called to serve in this manner.”

Mary K. Tilghman

Mary K. Tilghman

Mary Tilghman is a freelance contributor to the Catholic Review who previously served as managing editor, news editor and staff writer for the Review.

A parishioner of St. Ignatius in Baltimore, she and her husband have three adult children. Her first novel, “Divided Loyalties” (Black Rose Writing), a historical novel set in the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, was published in 2017.