Father Jan Michael Joncas, prolific composer and associate professor of Catholic Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, at the University of St. Thomas, has been chosen as Washington Theological Union’s (WTU) Sophia Award recipient for 2012. The Sophia Award is one of the highest honors WTU grants to a scholar whose work defines national excellence in theological scholarship contributing to the ministry of the Catholic Church. Joncas will be honored at the 16th Sophia Award and Lecture on Sunday, Feb. 12, at Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.

“Awarding the prestigious Washington Theological Union Sophia Award has been lifted to new heights with the selection of Reverend Joncas,” said Anne McLaughlin, RSM, D.Min., 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.”

Joncas, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and composer of some of the most recognizable church hymns, also has served as a parochial vicar, a campus minister and a parochial administrator. He is the author of three books and more than 200 articles and reviews in journals such as Worship, Ecclesia Orans, and Questions Liturgiques. He has composed and arranged more than 300 pieces of liturgical music, including the devotional song “On Eagles’ Wings.”

Past WTU Sophia Award recipients include:

  • Father Michael Scanlon, O.S.A., Villanova University (2011)
  • Father Donald Senior, C.P., S.T.D., Catholic Theological Union (2010)
  • Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, Ph.D., Fordham University (2009).

Following the Sophia Award presentation, Joncas will give a free public lecture, “Heaven’s Harmonies in Human Habitats: Composing for the Church.”