It was announced this past week that Father John W. Crossin, OSFS, a member of the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, has been named executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USSCB). Father Crossin is replacing Father James Massa, a priest of the Brooklyn Diocese, who was recalled to Brooklyn to serve as coordinator of transition for the interdiocesan partnership, charged with the task of preparing for the merger of three New York seminaries into one.
Father Crossin served most recently as executive director of the Washington Theological Consortium, 1998-2001. He was also a visiting fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, 1997-98; president, De Sales School of Theology, 1987-97; and academic dean, De Sales School of Theology, 1986-87.
Father Crossin is a member of the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales who serve in our diocese at both the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Camden and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cape May. The Oblates of St. Francis De Sales strive to live as a religious community who minister in loving union with God and with each other. They share their particular ecclesial gifts with the Christian and wider community by striving to follow the example of their founder, Father Louis Brisson, and in accordance with the spirit of St. Francis De Sales. As an Oblate, Father Crossin has served as a superior, a member of the provincial council and assistant general treasure of the congregation.
He holds a doctorate in moral theology and master’s degrees in psychology and theology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. He is past president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists and the Thomas More Society of Washington. He has taught at several theological schools including Catholic University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary and De Sales School of Theology. While at De Sales School of Theology he initiated a program to expose students to the spirituality of St. Francis De Sales by establishing the De Sales Center for Lay Spirituality as a vehicle for disseminating Salesian spirituality on a wider scale.
Msgr. Jenkins, USCCB general secretary, said, “Father Crossin has extraordinary background and expertise in the world of ecumenism and interfaith relations. He also has strong administrative experience honed in service to his religious congregation. I am delighted to welcome him to the USCCB.”
Father Crossin will be working closely with the rest of the staff of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Father Dr. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP and Anthony Cirelli, Ph.D., associate directors. The Secretariat seeks to support the bishops of the country in their task of promoting ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and works with theologians and other experts in these areas.
The executive director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs serves the bishops of the United States and the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs in implementing the will of the church as found in the documents of the Magisterium from Vatican II to the present time. It is understood in the documents of the Second Vatican Council that the ecumenical task is primarily the work of the bishops. The Secretariat helps the bishops in this task serving as staff for all their national and international ecumenical and interreligious outreach.
All those involved in the ecumenical and interreligious outreach in our country are delighted with the choice of Father John Crossin. We know that he will bring that special Salesian charism described in his order’s document, “Leadership in the Salesian Tradition.” “In a world made callous by violence and disrespect for the individual, the Salesian spirit of gentleness and respect for others is like a healing balm, a tonic for wholeness.”
We know that Father Crossin will serve in the tradition of his congregation, which, “as Christian humanists, we believe in the dignity, worth and responsible liberty of each person and we try to approach each person in a gentle and humble way fostering peace and justice in the world community.”
Father Joseph D. Wallace is coordinator, Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, Diocese of Camden.