After a five year tenure as Dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry and Associate Professor of Theology, Dr. Matthew Gerlach has accepted a new position as the Vice President for Character, Virtue, and Ethics; Core Associate Professor of Ethics and Leadership; and the Director and Endowed Chair of the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, and will conclude his time at Sacred Heart Major Seminary on July 2nd.
Dr. Gerlach came to Sacred Heart in 2016, inspired by a passion for the mission of the laity in the Church and in the world and the necessary formation of the laity to fulfill their call to missionary discipleship.
“He brought with him a deep love for the Lord,” says Msgr. Todd Lajiness, “and valuable experience in teaching and forming lay students. Over the years here at Sacred Heart he has worked tirelessly to advance the work of the Institute for Lay Ministry and sought creative ways to engage our commuter students. He has overseen a number of initiatives, programmatic reviews, and most recently the collaborative effort with the Archdiocese on catechist formation.”
Dr. Gerlach was instrumental in the seminary’s efforts to establish distance education and accreditation of online programs, helping to establish the undergraduate Certificate in Catholic Theology as the Sacred Heart’s first online program. He and his team also designed and launched the seminary’s EQUIP platform for free, open, online courses
Dr. Ryan Cahill, Director of Distance Education and Online Learning, recalls Dr. Gerlach’s arrival at Sacred Heart, saying, “He has had such an incredible impact at Sacred Heart since he joined the seminary family. Dr. Gerlach’s leadership and hard work over the past five years has transformed the way the seminary approaches lay formation, serves our commuter student populations, and provides online formation opportunities.”
Both Dr. Gerlach and his wife are from the Twin Cities; their return will bring them closer to family while still contributing to the mission of Catholic higher education. “I'm excited to bring what I've learned these past several years to a Lasallian Catholic university that strives to be a thriving university in the Midwest dedicated to the ethical formation of its students,” he says.
Among his responsibilities in his new role, Dr. Gerlach will lead efforts to advance a new university-wide initiative to promote character education and virtue formation across all levels, departments, and areas of St. Mary's.
“It has been a privilege and honor to lead the Institute for Lay Ministry since 2016,” Dr. Gerlach says. “One of my greatest joys and privileges has been to walk with our MAPS students as they seek to discern and follow God's call to serve the Church in lay ecclesial ministries. I've seen what a difference well formed lay people can make in parishes and dioceses around the country.”
Please join the seminary community in our continued prayers for Dr. Gerlach’s success in his next endeavors.