Father Larry Snyder, who for the last nine years has been president of Catholic Charities USA, one of the largest social service agencies in the United States, will become vice president for mission at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, effective Feb. 1, 2015.
The 1987 St. Thomas alumnus is excited to return to Minnesota.
“It’s a huge deal for me,” he said. “I knew at some point that I would come back to Minnesota. Even though I grew up in Illinois, my foundation of support and my friends are in the Twin Cities.”
Father Snyder succeeds Father John Malone, who retired May 31 and will serve as pastor at Assumption in St. Paul.
Mark Neuzil, who served as director of the Office for Mission at St. Thomas under Father Malone, will be interim vice president for mission until Snyder’s arrival.
“Father Snyder has been one of the most important and compelling voices over the last decade on more effective ways of collaboration to end poverty in America and provide greater opportunities for those in need to achieve their full potential,” said Julie Sullivan, University of St. Thomas president. “His core beliefs align beautifully with those of the St. Thomas community, and we are excited about the new initiatives he can develop and lead to further fulfill our mission of advancing the common good.”
Father Snyder led Catholic Charities in the Twin Cities for 14 years before leading the organization’s work at the nation’s capital, a role he said prepared him well for his new position at St. Thomas.
“As a leader at Catholic Charities, I make sure that Catholic identity drives us,” he said. “I live and breathe the mission. I know I have not done that in a university setting. But if you look at the Church’s history in the United States, its ministries — education, health care and social services — were founded at the same time, in the mid to late 1800s, when most Catholics in this country were immigrants having a really tough time.
“In that sense, I think it will be very easy to move to a university that has the same fundamental roots as Catholic Charities. Look at the mission of St. Thomas: It’s about educating students to become morally responsible leaders who will advance the common good. That’s what I believe in. I want to make sure our Catholic identity and our sense of mission reflect who we are and what we do.”
Work fulfills sense of Church’s mission
Snyder, 63, was born in Lincoln, Ill., the 10th of 12 children. He spent two years at Loras College, and its affiliated Pius X Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and transferred to what is now Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music and lived in the Benedictine religious community.
He moved to the Twin Cities in 1983 to serve as music and adult education director at St. Joseph in New Hope.
“When I came to Minnesota, the Church was so alive, and so many good things were happening that within a year, I knew I wanted to enter the St. Paul Seminary,” he said.
Snyder received a Master of Divinity degree from St. Thomas in 1987 and was ordained an archdiocesan priest the following spring. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University.
His first priest assignments were as associate pastor at Epiphany in Coon Rapids and at Nativity of Mary in Bloomington.
Under Snyder, Catholic Charities has become a national thought leader and policy advocate on poverty issues.
Since 2007, Snyder has served on the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Catholic Church’s charitable activities around the world. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to a two-year term on the President’s Advisory Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
This article is used and edited with permission from the University of St. Thomas Newsroom.
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