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Fr. Tony Penna to Direct Campus Ministry at BC

Office of Public Affairs

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (6-15-09) -- Boston College has named Fr. Anthony Penna, a popular and respected campus minister for the past 17 years, as its next director of campus ministry, effective June 15.  Fr. Penna, who also served as chaplain to athletics for the past nine years, will succeed James Erps, SJ, who will become director of campus ministry at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount University.

Fr. Tony PennaAs athletics chaplain, Fr. Penna developed a successful life-skills program for the University’s 750 student-athletes, and a leadership program, based on former Stanford University Business Professor Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” which encourages student-athletes to discover the possibilities for success that exist within them. He also presided at liturgies for various athletic teams throughout the year and attended home games for numerous BC sports teams.

Rev. Tony Penna

As a campus minister, Fr. Penna helped to create and direct BC’s 48Hours Program, which assists first-year students in transitioning to college life, and to develop Courage to Know, a course that encourages freshmen students to critically explore the intellectual, spiritual and social dimensions of Boston College.  He also serves as a resident minister in Ignacio Hall and as an adjunct faculty member in the Theology Department. The Sunday evening Mass he and fellow Campus Minister Jack Butler, SJ, celebrate for students in the Heights Room, and the weekly Mass he celebrates for administrators, coaches and athletes in Conte Forum, are considered among the most popular Masses offered on campus.

“I can’t tell you how many BC graduates have told me that one of the most vivid memories they have of their undergraduate years is of Tony’s homilies at his Sunday evening residence hall Mass,” said Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, vice president for university mission and ministry.  “Tony’s long experience in Campus Ministry at BC and his pastoral sensitivity to people’s lives make him a fine choice to lead Campus Ministry here.”
A graduate of Boston College, Fr. Penna holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology and a master’s degree in education from the University. He also received a master’s degree in divinity from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. Now a diocesan priest, Fr. Penna was ordained for the Stigmatine community in 1975. He continues to serve as a weekend minister at St. Matthew Parish in Southborough, Mass, and has served many other parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Boston throughout the years.  

Fr. Penna said that as the first non-Jesuit director of campus ministry at Boston College, he is both humbled and honored to accept the position.  “Knowing the influence that the Jesuits have had in shaping my life, I have a real sense of indebtedness to them,” he said. “To be entrusted with such a tremendous religious and spiritual legacy is humbling, and makes me feel very privileged.”  

Fr. Penna says he has two goals for his new position, which he will officially begin on June 15. “One is to work closely with anyone who cares as much as we do in Campus Ministry about religious and spiritual life on campus,” he said. “The other is to pledge that every day we are going to continue to seek the magis; to try to excel a little bit more each day at what we do, so that the religious and spiritual pulse of the Boston College community becomes ever stronger under our stewardship.”

Fr. Penna credited Fr. Erps with strengthening campus liturgical life and the Campus Ministry office systems, and with expanding religious retreats, all of which, he says, will make his work much easier. 

“I also inherit a group of talented and dedicated campus ministers who are as excited about the mission of Campus Ministry as I am,” said Fr. Penna. “I am looking forward to the work, the collaboration and the many possibilities that lie ahead.”