Biblical School founder lived for God’s word


Sister Macrina Scott, O.S.F., founder of the Catholic Biblical School and instructor of spiritual classes at Most Precious Blood Parish, died April 2. She was 83 years old.

Sister Macrina Scott, O.S.F.

Sister Macrina Scott, O.S.F.

Ben Akers, current director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and Catechetical School, mourned the loss of Sister Scott saying her vision lives on today in the witness of the school’s many graduates.

“Sister Macrina stated her No. 1 goal for founding the school was to ‘unleash the power of God’s Word among the Catholic people of the Archdiocese of Denver,’” Akers said. “The over 2,700 graduates of the program and many more students who have attended classes over the last 32 years give a strong witness to her vision.”

“We pray for her soul … and all the souls of the faithfully departed that they may share in the joy of the resurrected Lord this Easter season.”

Marguerite (Peggy) Rose Scott was born Jan. 1, 1932 to Robert and Marguerite Scott. She attended Catholic schools in Maryland, Texas and in Illinois. She studied at the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota and the University of Chicago before entering the contemplative Benedictine community Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn. During her 17 years there she became well formed in liturgical and biblical spirituality.

After the Second Vatican Council, Sister Scott left monastic life and transferred to the Marycrest Franciscans. As a Franciscan, she participated in spiritual renewal especially through retreat work, spiritual direction and teaching Scripture.

She earned a master’s degree in theological studies at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., and founded the Catholic Biblical School of the Archdiocese of Denver in 1982. She directed the program for 20 years as thousands of adults attended class and graduated from the program.

“She knew that this was the work for which God had prepared her all her life, and she gave herself to it wholeheartedly,” said Sister Rita Cammack of the Sisters of St. Francis.

Sister Scott continued to make contributions to Scripture studies by founding the Wisdom Center at Marycrest and later at Most Precious Blood Church in Denver. She wrote extensively and published three books: “Picking the ‘Right’ Bible Study Program,” “Bible Stories Revisited: Discover Your Story in the Old Testament” and “Bible Stories Revisited: Discover Your Story in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.”

She died at Collier Hospice Center in Denver. A wake will be held 7 p.m. April 9 at Most Precious Blood Church, 2250 S. Harrison St., Denver. A funeral Mass will be held 2 p.m. April 10 at St. Dominic Church, 2915 Federal Blvd., Denver. Receptions will follow.

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COMING UP: The bullies and that book 

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Immediately after news broke on January 12 that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah had written a book on the crisis of the priesthood in the 21st-century Church, online hysteria erupted — which rather underscored the prudence of a New Year’s resolution I had recommended to concerned Catholics in a January 1 column: “Resolve to limit your exposure to the Catholic blogosphere.”  

The extraordinary venom spewed at the pope emeritus and the cardinal by more than a few commentators did not advance the Church’s discussion of the reform of the priesthood one jot or tittle. It actually retarded that urgent discussion, diverting attention from some urgent issues (including the deep roots of the abuse crisis and the meaning of clerical celibacy) by treating a serious book as if it were a partisan political tract.  

Yet the cacophony over the Benedict/Sarah book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, did serve two useful purposes: it spoke volumes about the character of the venomous, and it clarified some of the dynamics roiling the Church as the pontificate of Pope Francis approaches its seventh anniversary on March 13. 

The attack on Pope Emeritus Benedict was exceptionally nasty — and deeply ill-informed. One prominent partisan of the current pontificate opined that Benedict is “conscious barely half an hour at a time;” another wizard from the left field bleachers had it that Benedict was “incapacitated.” Neither man has the faintest idea of what he’s talking about. I spent a full 45 minutes with Pope Emeritus Benedict this past October 19, discussing a broad range of issues. He was quite frail physically, but in the early evening of what I assume had been a normal day, he was completely lucid, quite well-informed, eager for new information, full of good humor, and able to recall themes and personalities from conversations we had had decades earlier. The pope emeritus seemed clear as a bell, intellectually, at age 92; can the same be said for those who, relying on “reports,” dismiss him as a senile old man, out of touch with events and perhaps even reality? 

The attack on Cardinal Sarah was equally vicious and just as ill-informed. I have had the honor of knowing the Guinean cardinal for several years and, like anyone who has spent significant time with him, I have found him a man of profound holiness: a truly converted disciple of Jesus Christ whose ministry flows from his radical fidelity to the Lord. Despite the caricatures perpetrated by those who evidently fear his present and future influence in the Church, Cardinal Sarah has also struck me as a man of Christian joy, still amazed at the grace of God that has been at work in his life, and therefore able to laugh (in that robust way that only Africans can) at the human foibles of the moment. Cardinal Sarah was not laughing, however, at the claim that he had lied about the origin and nature of From the Depths of Our Hearts and his righteous, if controlled, anger confirmed what those who actually know him understand: this is an honest man.  

These calumnies against Benedict and Sarah were amplified by another absurd charge: that by discharging their minds and consciences on what is necessary for an authentic reform of the priesthood, the pope emeritus and the cardinal were somehow interfering with Pope Francis’s “discernment” after the Amazonian synod of this past October. So it has now come down (and I do mean down) to this: the partisans of openness and dialogue are now telling two of Catholicism’s most distinguished sons that their views are unwelcome; that the theological and pastoral defense of clerical celibacy is an act of disloyalty to Pope Francis; and that they should just shut up.  

These are not the tactics of advocates convinced that they have won the substantive argument and are likely to continue winning. These are the tactics of those who, fearful that time is running out, imagine that their only recourse is to resort to bullying.  

There is nothing of churchmanship in this, nor is there anything of Christian charity. The reform of the priesthood is essential for the evangelizing mission of the Church. Those who dismissed a serious proposal for such reform, in large part by vilifying its authors, branded themselves as less interested in reforming the priesthood of the New Covenant than in ecclesiastical power-games. 

Featured image: © L’Osservatore Romano