With a large group from the St. Ambrose University community in attendance on April 3, Rev. Robert "Bud" Grant, PhD, a professor of theology and director of SAU's Academy for the Study of Saint Ambrose of Milan, became the second American inducted into a prestigious Italian research center dedicated to the university's patron saint.
Fr. Grant was welcomed into the Classe Ambrosiana of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, Italy.
He was joined for the occasion by his sister, Judy Bell, and niece, Jenny Foncree. Also in attendance was Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Koch, PhD, Dean of Academic Student Programs Tracy Shuster-Matlock, PhD, President Emeritus Edward Rogalski, PhD, and several SAU alumni.
Fr. Grant was honored for his work in establishing the academy at the only US university named after Saint Ambrose, as well as for his dedication to the scholastic study of the work and life of Ambrose of Milan, and his ongoing efforts to foster collaboration with the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
"Father Grant's induction is a remarkable recognition," said Sr. Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, president of the university. "This international distinction brings great honor to Father Grant, to our academy, and to the university as well."
Fr. Grant described the occasion as "humbling" and added, "It was fantastic to have so many people from the university community there."
Classe Ambrosiana is one of seven classi of Biblioteca Ambrosiana, and was established in 2003. Prior to his induction, Fr. Grant introduced his English translation of an Ambrose biography authored by Msgr. Cesare Passini, prefect of the Vatican library.
"It can help in a lot of ways," Fr. Grant said of his induction's impact for SAU. "First, it is a signal in a certain sense that we have arrived on that stage of international recognition and approbation from a fairly elite academic and scholarly community that originates in Milan, but has membership all over the world.
"And in very practical terms, it announces us to other academics and scholars who perhaps would be more open to the possibility of coming here to lecture."
He said the "quickest and most immediate response" came in the form of invitations for both he and Ethan Gannaway, PhD, executive coordinator of the SAU academy and a visiting assistant professor of art history and geography, to submit paper proposals for a 2015 conference on Saint Ambrose at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.
"Clearly, it has established us," Fr. Grant said. "People now recognize us."
As a member of the Classe Ambrosiana, Fr. Grant said he also will participate in board meetings where themes will be set for each of the annual conferences and subsequent publications. The theme next year will be Ambrose and nature, and the following year will be themed around social justice.
"These are two things for which St. Ambrose University should be able to make some contributions," Fr Grant said.
He said he and members of the traveling contingent from St. Ambrose also enjoyed a profound experience while spending an afternoon with a group of nuns at Sacra Cuore, in the mountains north of Milan, which he described as "the only religious community dedicated to the spirituality of Saint Ambrose."
Fr. Grant said, "every single one of us came away with the sense of serenity that comes with recognizing Ambrose not just as a scholar, not just as a bishop, but as a man of deep spirituality."