Follow @shmsdetroit

Farewell Father Spezia, Thank You Father Ryan

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

A long-time faculty member and seminarian spiritual director, Fr. Robert Spezia, has been given a new assignment and is leaving Sacred Heart for a position with the Archdiocese of Detroit. At the same time, a new faculty member with an extensive background in academics and spiritual direction, Fr. Peter Ryan, SJ, has accepted an invitation to assume Father Spezia's formational duties.

Beginning in July, Father Spezia will undertake his new responsibilities as the archdiocesan vicar for clergy and director of the Office for Clergy and Consecrated Life. He will be assisting Archbishop Allen Vigneron in providing spiritual, physical, and formational support for the priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit and providing support for deacons and those in consecrated life who also minister in the archdiocese.

Since 2002, Father Spezia has served full time on the seminary faculty as assistant professor of theology. As do many of the priest-faculty at Sacred Heart, he performed multiple duties. Other roles that Father has had include serving as director of undergraduate spiritual formation as well as moderator of liturgy.

In this latter role, Father Spezia supervised the liturgical formation of seminarians. Noteworthy during his tenure in this capacity was the chapel fire of 2009. Father Spezia managed the monumental task of rehabilitating the main chapel after a ceiling fire caused major smoke and water damage. He oversaw a team of skilled artists and craftspeople as they cleaned, repaired, and restored canvas ceiling panels, stained glass windows, masonry window surrounds, pews, and religious artwork.

Resident priest Fr. Peter Ryan, SJ, has accepted Msgr. Todd Lajiness's invitation to become the seminary's new spiritual director of undergraduate seminarians. He will assist the seminarians as they develop a deeper relationship with God and will guide them on their pursuit of personal holiness.

Father Ryan, a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, has been teaching graduate theology at Sacred Heart since fall 2016. Previously, he was director of spiritual formation and professor of moral theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Missouri. Before that, he was professor of moral theology at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland. He has served the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as executive director of its Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs.

Last year, we were blessed to welcome Fr. Peter Ryan to the faculty. He came to us as a highly esteemed moral theologian, but also with many years of experience as a spiritual director and director of spiritual formation, Monsignor Lajiness says. That wisdom and experience will be invaluable as he takes up responsibilities as the director of college spiritual formation. I am deeply grateful to Father Ryan and also his superior for supporting this new assignment.

Father Ryan says that he has been made to feel most welcome here at Sacred Heart and is happy to play his part in its mission.

The faculty is second to none academically and faithful to the Church's teachings. And this is a holy place, says Father Ryan, true to its name. As a spiritual father to the undergraduate seminarians, I hope to help draw them deeper into the Heart of Christ.

Monsignor Lajiness says that Father Spezia has been a great blessing to the seminary in the many ways he has ministered for the past fifteen years, especially in his example of charity and humility.

It is inspiring to witness the generosity of his priestly service by taking up joyfully this new position. Let's be sure to offer him our prayerful support.

Commenting on his time at seminary, Father Spezia relates that over these years at Sacred Heart, I have collaborated with one of the finest groups of people around, while noting that in his fifteen years as a spiritual director, I have been privileged to work with young men who have inspired me very much. They have probably contributed more to my own formation than I have contributed to theirs!

I will sorely miss the frequent collaboration with everyone, but particularly with my brother priests, our Sr. Mary Finn, and of course our seminarians.

MOSAIC Editorial Team

Stay connected with Sacred Heart. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.


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.