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A Trajectory of Ascent, a Circle Unbroken

by Martha Demerly

As an archer must read windage, so Dr. Peter Williamson, himself an archer, has been reading the winds of the Spirit throughout his lifetime. Guided by the Spirit and aimed at sharing the gift of life-giving water, he has chosen a spiritual trajectory.

It is no accident that Dr. Williamson opted to become a professor of Sacred Scripture. This inclination was nurtured by his parents: Robert, a Presbyterian minister, and Beulah, who formed their family of six by setting a path of appropriation of the grace of Baptism, belief in the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, and the Christian commission to preach the Gospel. This evangelical spirit took earlier roots in the lives of Dr. Williamson's grandparents, Assembly of God missionaries to Guangdong, China, from 1917 to 1936. During this tumultuous period, Dr. Williamson's father was born. Later, much to the chagrin of his grandfather, Robert converted to Calvinism, just as Peter would later convert to Catholicism.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Williamson eagerly entered into evangelical conversations. His friend and colleague, Paco Gavrilides, instructor of homiletics at Sacred Heart, recalls Peter's willingness and courage to speak of Christ, his respectful manner and loving motivation. There, guided by the Spirit to belief in the authority of Sacred Tradition, he became a Catholic and a member of the Word of God Community, an ecumenical charismatic community based in Ann Arbor, for which he has served as a coordinator and a liaison with the bishop of Lansing.

After graduation, Dr. Williamson owned and sold two businesses before beginning study at Sacred Heart, where he earned an MA in Theology (New Testament) in 1995. Then, his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University earned an STB, STL, and, finally, an STD in Biblical Theology. Dr. Williamson now holds the Adam Cardinal Maida Chair in Sacred Scripture. As he continues to teach at Sacred Heart and abroad, he also directs students academically and spiritually, including overseeing the monthly Fellowship of St. Paul prayer gatherings and the Life in the Spirit seminars the fellowship sponsors.

Dr. Williamson's work with Renewal Ministries, founded by faculty colleague Dr. Ralph Martin, has come to a full circle of evangelical labor. Since 1993, he has taught courses, coordinated evangelization with clergy and laity, and led retreats in Lithuania, Kazakhstan, and China. In China, he visited a small city in Quangdong where his grandparents had established Christian communities. Hoping to find a remnant after so many years, he and his guide went down by the river one evening and found about 120 Christians who belong to a community numbering 1,000 worshipping in secret. The circle is unbroken.

In his missionary work and in his latest undertaking, editing the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, Dr. Williamson's wife, Marsha Daigle-Williamson, is both partner and supporter. During his writing of the latest contribution to this series, Revelation, she offered gentle exhortation to finish lest the descent of the new Jerusalem precede its publication. This series, which he co-edits with Sacred Heart's Dr. Mary Healy and Associate Editor Kevin Perotta, is characterized by writing that is scholarly, popular, and pastoral. As editors who share the opinion that Iron strengthens iron (Prv 27:17), they require a rigorous approach, obliging authors to revise their manuscripts in light of extensive comments.

Peter Williamson stands firm in the path his family has set, and he aspires to the rising trajectory of life in the Spirit. He expresses these aspirations through this heartfelt prayer in his commentary on St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians: Heavenly Father, change me into that which I adore. Let me be completely filled with your divine life to the extent of your infinite fullness.

Martha Demerly

Martha Demerly graduated from Sacred Heart with an MA in Theology. She now is involved in the Faith Formation and Women’s Ministry in her parish, St. Thomas More, in Troy, Michigan.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.