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Preaching from the Roots

How might we preach from the Hebrew Scriptures in ways that are authentic to both Catholicism and Judaism? How could we avoid misunderstandings and anti-Jewish signaling in our interpretations of the texts?

Exterior of Joyce Contemplative Center at dusk

A Retreat for Catholic Clergy

Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Register by October 26.

Join us at the College of the Holy Cross’s Thomas P. Joyce '59 Contemplative Center, a serene refuge overlooking the beautiful Wachusett Reservoir, for this immersive, interactive retreat to prepare for the coming Advent season. Focusing on readings from the First Sunday of Advent, we will explore the importance of balancing theological authenticity as Catholics with accurately portraying the historical roots of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament and their meaning and significance in Judaism. Alongside presentations by Scripture scholars and experts in Judaism and Catholicism, the retreat will include shared meals, group dialogue about the challenges and possibilities of preaching Scripture, conversations on how to read biblical texts, and time in prayer.

Participants are invited to arrive Tuesday evening for Mass, dinner and fellowship, with overnight accommodations in the Joyce Contemplative Center. The retreat is open to Catholic priests from dioceses in or adjacent to Massachusetts.

Sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture with support from the Kraft-Hiatt Fund for Jewish-Christian Understanding.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2022 (Optional)

4:30 p.m.:    Mass
6:00 p.m.:    Dinner
7:00 p.m.:    Fellowship
Overnight at the Joyce Contemplative Center.


8:00 a.m.:    Breakfast

9:00 a.m.:    Open Group Discussion
Facilitator: Rev. Timothy O'Brien, S.J., Associate Vice President for Mission at Holy Cross
What do you love, and what do you find challenging about preaching from Scripture? What elicits a response? What is preaching like for you?

10:45 a.m.:  How to Read the Prophets? A Conversation with Catholic and Jewish Experts
Alan Avery-Peck, Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies at the College of the Holy Cross
Philip A. Cunningham, Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University

Noon:          Lunch

1:00 p.m.:   Breakout Groups
Facilitators: Alan Avery-Peck, Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, and Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College

2:45 p.m.:   Lectio Divina and “Bible Study”
Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross

4:30 p.m.:   Mass
5:30 p.m.:   Dinner

$65   All meals, overnight stay and workshop
$35   Wednesday meals and workshop only

Register online by October 26. Fees are nonrefundable.

Please indicate on the form if you have any dietary restrictions and if you require accommodations for handicap accessibility. Single rooms and private baths will be assigned on a first-come basis.

Parking at the JCC is very limited. High-occupancy vehicles and those with handicap placards will receive priority parking privileges. Shuttle service from Holy Cross will be provided as necessary.  Once we have final registration numbers we will let you know what parking will be available.


Alan Avery-Peck

Alan J. Avery-Peck is Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies at the College of the Holy Cross. Specializing in Jewish history and religion in the first six centuries C.E., Avery-Peck is an author, co-author, and editor of numerous books and articles. These include "The Encyclopaedia of Judaism" (second edition in 4 vols., Brill, 2005) and "The Encyclopedia of Religious and Philosophical Writings in Late Antiquity: Pagan, Judaic, Christian" (Brill, 2007).

Bruce Chilton

Bruce Chilton is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism. He wrote the first critical translation and commentary for the Aramaic version of Isaiah ("The Isaiah Targum," 1987), as well as academic studies that analyze Jesus in his Judaic context. His popular books include "Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography" (Doubleday, 2000). He is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion Director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College.

Philip A. Cunningham

Philip Cunningham is Professor of Theology (specializing in Christian-Jewish Relations) and Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He has served as president of the International Council of Christians and Jews and on the Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is the author of "Seeking Shalom: The Journey to Right Relationship between Catholics and Jews" (Eerdmans, 2015).

Mahri Leonard-Fleckman

Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Holy Cross, specializes in the literary history of the Hebrew Bible (its contexts of production and consumption) and Iron Age history. She is the author of "The House of David: Between Political Formation and Literary Revision" (Fortress Press, 2016) and co-author of "The Book of Ruth" in the Wisdom Commentary Series (Liturgical Press, 2017). Her popular book series, "Ponder: Contemplative Bible Study," has received honors from the Catholic Media Association and Association of Catholic Publishers.

Rev. Timothy O'Brien, S.J., '06

Rev. Timothy O’Brien, S.J., is Associate Vice President of Mission at Holy Cross. Trained in history and theology, he is a specialist in the religious and spiritual culture of early modern Iberia. A 2006 Holy Cross alumnus, Fr. O’Brien entered the Society of Jesus in 2008 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2018. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the history of spirituality and religious life at Centre Sèvres, Paris. Before returning to Holy Cross, Fr. O’Brien taught theology and served in the Office of Mission Integration at Loyola University Maryland.

A place for stillness, reflection, and prayer, the Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center is the home of our spiritual retreats whose purpose is to help members of the Holy Cross community deepen their relationship with God and grow in self-knowledge and interior freedom. 

Situated on a 52-acre parcel of land in West Boylston, Mass., just 20 minutes from campus, the Joyce Contemplative Center overlooks breathtaking views of the Wachusett Reservoir. The building includes a chapel, meeting rooms, dining room, and bedrooms for 60 individuals.