Archbishop Edmond J. FitzMaurice Lecture Series
Once the Society was fully established with successive Red Masses and Award Dinners, the Executive Committee began to discuss, sponsoring a lecture series. The Society’s first chaplain and guiding founder, Monsignor Paul J. Taggart, recalled for the Executive Committee the work of Archbishop Edmond J. FitzMaurice, the fourth Bishop of Wilmington (1925-1960). Archbishop FitzMaurice ardently believed in spreading the faith, and was a strong supporter of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Catholic Forum of the Air, the Catholic Television Guild, and the Diocesan Book Forum. Through his efforts, many speakers came to Wilmington to address topics of special importance to Catholics. (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen even visited Wilmington to speak on behalf of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.)
And so, during the Society’s second year, the Executive Committee decided that its main service activity would focus on continuing that tradition. It decided to establish a twice annual lecture series to be named the Archbishop Edmond J. FitzMaurice Lecture Series. For the inaugural speaker, the Society turned to Dr. Louis Dupré, professor of Catholic studies at Yale University. On March 14, he spoke to a sizeable gathering at Padua Academy in Wilmington on the topic “The Challenge of Religion in the Modern World.”
Later that year, on October 10, 1990, Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D., former president of Catholic University of America and then head of the Institute of Bioethics at Georgetown University, spoke on "Modern Problems in Medical Ethics.” A number of doctors attended the lecture held at the home of the Medical Society of Delaware.
After that solid start, the Society has sponsored two lectures a year thereafter. Among other notable speakers, Father Raymond Brown stands out. He was a close friend of Monsignor Taggart and spoke twice (November 1991 and October 1996). Father Brown was a world-renowned biblical scholar and author. He had been one of the early experts called upon to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A notable and fortuitous event happened in 2000. The Society was approached by the Notre Dame Club of Delaware, which asked if the Society would be interested in co-sponsoring a lecture with the club that would feature a speaker from the University of Notre Dame. That experiment was a success, and the two organizations have collaborated each spring thereafter to their mutual satisfaction.
A particular highlight of the lecture series was a sequence of two lectures back to back. In December 2007, Robert Novak, nationally syndicated columnist and television commentator known for his conservative views spoke at Theatre N in downtown Wilmington on his own journey of faith culminating in his conversion to Catholicism. Then in April 2008, Mark Shields, nationally syndicated columnist and television commentator known for his liberal views, spoke at Theatre N about his journalistic life covering politics. The successive speeches by high profile figures, free to the public, really showed the idea behind the lecture series at its best.