Lewis officially took over the reins of the Jesuit college at the Toronto School of Theology on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, on May 1.
“I have gratitude for the confidence that my colleagues showed in me,” he said. “There’s a little bit of apprehension but it is excitement too. It is a challenge and something new and I look forward to it.”
Ordained in 1987, the Hawaii native holds an impressive educational pedigree. Among his many degrees is a masters in history from the Catholic University of America, a masters of divinity from Weston School of Theology and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.
Lewis also holds a licentiate in sacred theology from Regis College and a licentiate in sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
He also writes the weekly God’s Word on Sunday column for The Catholic Register, which has been turned into three books, and has authored several books.
Prior to his appoint ment Lewis served the Regis community as an associate professor focusing his teachings on the New Testament for the past decade. Now academic dean, Lewis has regretfully had to cut back his time in the classroom.
“My teaching has to go to half time and that is the down side because I like to teach,” said Lewis.
Although he hopes to be more active in the classroom in the future, for now his focus is on the job at hand.
“The dean’s job has to come first,” he said. “There is just a lot of stuff to learn. The first few months is going to be a rather steep learning curve.”
But Lewis said he isn’t enduring that alone. His staff is behind him.
“I have a very good staff and they know their jobs well so I’ll be relying on them to teach me the ropes on a lot of things,” he said.
One of those staff members is Fr. Gordon Rixon, who Lewis succeeds as dean. Rixon was the school’s dean for the past nine years.
Rixon said that even though Lewis may have a lot to learn, his knowledge, passion and love for Scripture will guide him through.
“Scott is going to be a great leader to the lay people,” said Rixon. “He’s a fine man with a love for Scripture and anyone with a love for Scripture like Scott will be a great leader. He is a very helpful person who’ll welcome the laity to theology.”
Lewis is already dreaming up ways to recruit more lay people into the theology classrooms but admits that he may be getting a little ahead of himself.
“Our lay people who train for degrees in ministry and theology, it is a great sacrifice of time and money,” he said. “One of the things that would be nice to have is more money for bursaries and things like that to help people but that is something that we’ll have to work out in the future.”
For now Lewis said he’ll try to focus on following in Rixon’s footsteps.
“Gordon was very good with details and the running of everyday things,” he said. “He has left it in good shape and I would like to keep it. Time will tell on this.”