The Rev. Jim Bacik, who retired last year as a Toledo diocesan priest, has found a welcome place to continue sharing his theological insights with his many friends and followers in the Toledo area.
On Saturday (March 2), Bacik will lead a study day from 1 to 5 p.m. at Sylvania Franciscan Village titled, “Lent: A Call to Personal Ecclesial and Societal Reconciliation.”
The lecture will be given in the Franciscan Center on the Sylvania Franciscan nuns’ campus, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania, which is also the campus of Lourdes University.
Bacik will also lead a study day on the Sylvania campus titled, “The Meaning of the Resurrection in the Gospels Today,” at 1 p.m. April 6, and will lecture at the Franciscan Center at 7 p.m. May 20 on Pope Benedict XVI and his successor.
He will also give a series of three lectures on prominent theologians at 5:30 p.m. on June 3, June 10 and June 17.
“I’m going to split my time between Lourdes and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago,” Bacik said.
The popular theologian, author and lecturer served as pastor of Toledo’s Corpus Christi University Parish for 30 years until his retirement in July at age 75.
Bacik taught at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago last fall and is back in Toledo until he resumes teaching this summer at CTU, one of the largest schools of theology in the world.
Sister Janet Doyle, administrator of Sylvania Franciscan Village, said the Sylvania nuns and Bacik have agreed to a one-year commitment for his lectures, with the possibility of extending it indefinitely.
“We are pursuing a relationship with him to bring him to campus so that he can continue to use his gifts,” Doyle said. “We certainly think he does a great job of bringing theology down to the layman’s understanding.”
She compared appeal of Bacik’s lectures to the nationally popular “Theology on Tap” events, where clerics discuss theology with laypeople in informal settings such as pubs or bars.
“He brings all of his marvelous expertise to those who are not theologians and makes sense of it in daily life,” Doyle said. “And I think that’s why so many people come to his lectures, because they make sense to them.”
Bacik organized annual spring and fall lecture series at Corpus Christi Parish that featured some of the most prominent names in Catholic theology worldwide, and his lectures at the parish near the University of Toledo typically drew 300 or more people.
A Toledo native who earned a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Oxford, England, Bacik is the author of eight books, including “Contemporary Theologians” (1989) and “Apologetics and the Eclipse of Mystery” (1980).
His greatest theological influence was the German Jesuit priest Karl Rahner, with whom Bacik studied for his doctoral dissertation.
Rahner, who died in 1984 at age 80, is considered one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. According to the Karl Rahner Society’s website, “At the heart of Rahner’s thought is a coherent vision of the world as the profoundly mysterious arena of God’s self-communication in Jesus and the Spirit.”
In June, Bacik’s lectures will look at three prominent theologians: “Martin Buber: Recovering the Personal Dimension of Life,” on June 3; “Paul Tillich: The Relationship Between Religion and Culture,” on June 10, and “Karl Rahner: Preparing for a Dialogue with Eastern Religions,” on June 17.
“The June 17 event is important because it will be inaugurating a new endowed annual lecture,” Bacik said. “The anonymous donor wanted it named after me, so it will be called ‘The James Bacik Annual Lecture on Karl Rahner.’”
After giving the inaugural talk in the series, Bacik will serve as a consultant in bringing in theologians to deliver the future Rahner lectures.
He said the June 17 talk will feature “new material” for him, focusing on Rahner’s growing influence in China and the Far East.
Information and registration for the March 2 lecture is available online at sylvaniafranciscanvillage.org or by calling 419-824-3533. The cost is $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. More information on the Rev. Jim Bacik is available at FrJimBacik.org.