Father Jan Michael Joncas, prolific composer and associate professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, has been chosen as the 2012 Sophia Award recipient.
The Sophia Award is one of the highest honors Washington Theological Union (WTU) grants to a scholar whose work defines national excellence in theological scholarship contributing to the ministry of the Catholic Church.
Father Joncas, 60, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, will be honored at the 16th Sophia Award and Lecture at Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 12.
“Awarding the prestigious Washington Theological Union Sophia Award has been lifted to new heights with the selection of Rev. Joncas,” said Sister of Mercy Anne E. McLaughlin, acting academic dean of WTU. “A highly productive academic scholar and gifted musician, he continues to disclose the riches of the liturgical tradition in ever new and creative ways.”
Father Joncas was ordained in 1980. He has served as associate pastor of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Maplewood, campus minister at the University of Minnesota and parochial administrator of St. Cecilia parish in St. Paul, as well as teaching at the University of St. Thomas. Many recognize his name as composer of some of the most recognizable church hymns. He has composed and arranged over three hundred pieces of liturgical music, including the highly popular “On Eagles’ Wings” and a new hymnal on the Psalms. He recently began writing for The Catholic Spirit about new works by local composers of religious music. He is the author of three books and more than 200 articles and reviews in journals such as Worship, Ecclesia Orans, and Questions Liturgiques.
Past WTU Sophia Award recipients include Augustinian Father Michael J. Scanlon from Villanova University (2011) and Paulist Father Donald Senior from Catholic Theological Union (2010).
Following the 2012 Sophia Award presentation, Father Joncas will deliver a lecture titled “Heaven’s Harmonies in Human Habitats: Composing for the Church.”