More details emerging

I have gotten reports from several people in Trumau. They say that all of the faculty laid off this week had questioned the legality of Christiaan Alting von Geusau’s appointment as President last year. Alting von Geusau does not have a theology degree at all, while a doctorate in theology is typically required in order to be named rector of a pontifical theological faculty.

Last year, the faculty was initially unanimous in opposition to Alting von Geusau’s appointment, owing to the questionable legality and the nominee’s lack of qualifications; however, when it became apparent that the appointment would happen, only a few persisted in taking legal recourse. Sources say that all of those professors let go were involved in the legal action.

What is the impact? Students were apparently told that the STL and STD degrees would cease to be offered in all disciplines except marriage and family, and even then only few students would be accepted. The Eastern Christian Studies program now has no faculty, so that will effectively come to an end. The President re-iterated that the STM degree will continue to be a core of the Institute, alongside of the expansion of the liberal arts program, which is the new president’s area of interest.

Students are concerned that the integrity of the curriculum will not be able to be maintained, and some are contemplating leaving.

 

UPDATE:

I have been told that the legal action taken was to form a sort of worker’s union to protect employees under Austrian law from any unjust retaliatory action that the President might take in light of the faculty’s initial unanimous opposition to the President’s appointment.

What is most apparent here is that there is a lack of trust on all sides; and, it would seem, in order to expand in the direction of liberal arts, the serious disciplines in the study of theology at a higher level must be cut. Do pray for the people in Trumau, and the ITI’s continued mission!

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Mass Firings at the ITI

The report from current students has come in. The president met with the student body on Dec. 1st to inform them that, owing to lack of finances, he has laid off the following people effective at the end of the semester:

Rev. Dr. Joseph Veresh, Director of the Center for Eastern Christian Studies
Rev. Dr. Rupert Mayer (fundamental theology)
Dr. William Newton (theology, marriage and family)
Dr. Markus Riedenauer (philosophy)
Dr. Gudrun Kugler (marriage and family)

In addition, several staff, including the assistant to the Dean, a member of the development office team, the gardener, and the repair man were all let go.

This round of lay offs follows the ousting of the previous President Msgr. Larry Hogan last January, who was only given a week to clear out of office; and also of Dr. Alan Fimister (church history, Eastern Studies) whose contract was not renewed at the end of last academic year. The report is that various faculty members are already on record as saying that it is not principally about finances, but rather about “personal disagreements” between the Cardinal and President, and the faculty members in question.

For those of us who know these priests and professors personally, we know them to be upstanding in character and keen in intellect. This is truly a loss for the ITI.

Still hearing details from people, but I am sure the implications of all of this will be made clear in days to come – stay tuned…

Purpose

Welcome! I am new to the blogging world, so I hope you will help me out.

I am an alumnus of the International Theological Institute, now located in Trumau, Austria (formerly, it was in beautiful Gaming, where it shared a campus with Franciscan University and Ave Maria). The ITI has an excellent reputation and is renowned for its theological programs, which have an emphasis on marriage and family, as well as Eastern Catholicism. Historically, it has had some of the best theological faculty in the English speaking world who are known for their fidelity to the Church and the magisterium. It is a place that I loved to be at during my time there, and was instrumental in my formation as a Catholic (especially divine liturgy in the beautiful byzantine chapel). The people I met at the ITI are lifelong friends, and, many of those who continue to work there are truly faithful Catholics who are trying to make the ITI a wonderful place.

However, things have been “rotten in the state of Austria” for some time now, owing to drastic changes in the leadership of the Institute, at the behest of Cardinal Schönborn. The ITI has managed to keep up the appearance of growth and continued excellence, while (from the reports I have been receiving) things have never been worse. An example is the recent listing of the ITI on Cardinal Newman Society’s “Newman Guide”, while at the same time the new president has been laying off core faculty systematically since his appointment in January of 2014. It does make one wonder whether the Newman Guide has any due diligence in their selection of colleges for their Guide! The report I hear is that many students are very unhappy and thinking of leaving.

This blog will be an effort to inform those people considering going to the ITI the truth about the Institute as it is currently, as well as historically, both the good and the bad, so that you might make an informed decision before going to the Institute expecting one thing, only to be surprised to find it is nothing like the place which has been described to you. Reports come from current and former students who share information with me about their time at the ITI, both the good and the bad.

If you are considering going to the ITI and have questions, or if you went to the ITI (or currently attend) and would like to contribute stories or details, please write me. I will try to ensure that what is put on this blog is the truth about the ITI, and the people involved in its running. For the sake of protecting current and former students, I will not mention them by name.

In order to preserve anonymnity, all posts are scheduled and in GMT, so that the various contributors’ locations might not be ascertained.