By Amanda Jesse
University of Dallas alumnus Dr. Clinton Brand received a papal knighthood on Feb. 1 for his work on the Anglicanae traditiones commission, which is part of the apostolic constitution of Pope Benedict XVI, intended to incorporate aspects of the Anglican tradition into the Catholic one, begun in 2009.
Brand attended the University of Dallas from 1985 to 1989 as an English major. He was involved in numerous activities including theater, where he participated in senior thesis productions. During this time, however, he was not yet Catholic.
“I was an insufferable, snot-nosed Anglican,” Brand recalled humorously. “I refused to be wooed by Catholicism.”
Currently an English professor at the University of St. Thomas at Houston in Texas, Brand has come a long way to receiving one of the highest honors that can be granted to a layperson within the Catholic Church.
His journey began after he graduated from UD. He went on to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. for graduate studies, where he found himself facing spiritual difficulties.
“It was a time of crisis,” Brand said. “I was losing faith in the Anglican communion.”
He turned to an Anglican priest, Father Edwin Conly, for advice, who simply said, “You need to be Catholic.” Conly then arranged for Brand’s private instruction in the steps toward becoming a member of the Church. Brand was received into the Church on Easter in 1993. Conly himself later converted to Catholicism as well.
In the years following, Brand began working for Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He married Catalina and the couple had four sons.
“I was just an ordinary Catholic,” Brand said, conveying his own sense of slight incredulity at his knighthood.
In 2001, he came to Houston to work for the University of St. Thomas. There, he began attending Our Lady of Walsingham, a pastoral provision parish established by Pope St. John Paul II for Anglican converts.
“[Our Lady of Walsingham] preserved the customs and liturgy of the Anglican mass, and eventually served as a prototype for the Anglican ordinance,” Brand explained. “It was like our ‘de facto’ cathedral.”
In 2009, Benedict XVI began to reach out to former Anglicans in the Church on an international scale with the ultimate goal of receiving more Anglican converts into the Church. Brand worked as an “unofficial consultant” in early years, helping with his expertise in pre- and post-Reformation traditions of art, culture and worship. In 2011, he was invited to become a member of a new commission.
“This commission has been entrusted with the task of elaborating the liturgical provision for use by the Ordinariates by incorporating Anglican liturgical patrimony in Catholic worship,” Monsigner Steven Lopes, a member of the commission, said.
Brand was one of only two laypeople on the commission, the remaining being mostly bishops and archbishops. He described his work there as an “extraordinary ecclesiastical adventure.” The work took him to Rome, Vienna, London and San Francisco, culminating in the production of a missal that incorporates aspects of Anglican tradition into the Catholic mass.
The awarding of his knighthood earlier this month caught Brand entirely by surprise. At the start of this year, with the missal soon coming to publication, Brand said he felt that “it was all winding down.” Thus he remained unsuspecting when his wife, who had been told of Brand’s impending honor, invited her family to fly in from South America for a seemingly simple dedication of a new chancery at his home parish.
“That was the real miracle, that she was able to keep it a secret for that long,” Brand said.
Not until a family lunch with Lopes the Saturday before the ceremony was Brand aware of his pending honors.
“[Lopes] slyly announced that papal honors would be bestowed on members of the commission,” said Brand.
When an unsuspecting Brand inquired as to who would receive the honors, the monsignor pointed directly at him. The next day at Mass, visiting dignitaries from the Vatican presented Brand with a medal and a letter from the pope congratulating and thanking him for his work with the commission. His official title is now Professor Sir Clinton A. Brand, KSG.
Brand gives the University of Dallas much credit in guiding his life path.
“During my time at UD, I was challenged to take the Catholic faith seriously,” Brand said. “He recalls his time in Rome in the spring of ’87 as a particularly influential period, citing theology professor Dr. Regis Martin as having a strong impact on his journey.
“I have a profound gratitude for the education I received at UD. It truly set me on my way,” Brand said.