Brother Mark McVann, FSC Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Brother Mark, like his fellow Christian Brothers, has traveled the world to carry out his Lasallian mission, and he has been at Saint Mary’s for 12 years helping students expand their horizons in a similar way.

For some people, the secret to success comes in threes. “The three smartest things I ever did,” says Brother Mark McVann, “were learn Spanish, join the Brothers and finish grad school. Those things opened doors all over the world.”

With a Ph.D. in Theology from Emery University in Atlanta, Brother Mark has given biblical lectures across the United States and in Asia, Kenya, East Africa, Peru and Brazil. He has written more than 90 religious articles and essays and was for many years the editor of an academic journal. He also spent a sabbatical year in South America researching devotion to the Virgin Mary.

But his assignment at Saint Mary’s College came in a most unusual way – via email. “I was in Mexico with a group of students and opened my email and there was a message saying, ‘Dear Brother Mark, how’d you like to be a guest professor for a year?’” A one-year assignment in 2000 turned into a permanent position in 2002, and Brother Mark is now in his 12th year in Moraga.

Of all his experiences at Saint Mary’s, Brother Mark likes his Jan Term class best. He takes students to work for a poor Catholic church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The parish has a program of nutrition, and there’s a group of people who go into the slum and visit homes of newborns and make sure they’re enrolled.” He says the students are warmly received and it’s a moving experience for everyone involved. “People invite them to dinner and take them on tours through the city. There’s a kind of bond that forms.”

When Brother Mark isn’t teaching or traveling, he’s pursuing a life-long interest in classical music. He attends about two-dozen performances a year and has season tickets to the San Francisco Opera. “I’m a culture vulture,” he says. “I have only so many dollars to spend and I spend them on classical music.”