The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Catholic Campus Ministries welcomes Lackland home

Father Anthony “Tony” Lackland, an SMU alumni, has returned to Southern Methodist University as chaplain of Catholic Campus Ministries (CCM).

The priest graduated from the Meadows School of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1993. He returned to SMU on Aug. 15 not as a music professor, but as a spiritual leader for CCM.

“It has been a great homecoming; coming back [to SMU] full circle,” he said.

Twenty five percent of the SMU student body reported their religion Catholic upon enrollment. Ana LeBlanc, director of development at CCM, said Catholicism has been the No. 1 denomination for the past four years. SMU hosts 1,425 Catholic students and 1,237 Methodist students, according to the registrar’s office records. This is an increase of approximately 200 Catholic students since last year.

Father Lackland, who is the campus’ first full-time priest, is available for students at the Neuhoff Catholic Student Community Center located at 3057 University Blvd. His duties at SMU include sacramental mass and reconciliation at Perkins Chapel on Sundays and Wednesdays.

“I am here to speak about faith, to walk with them [the students] in their faith and their journey here at SMU,” said Father Lackland.

CCM is a mission located on the SMU campus, but is not directly affiliated with the university. CCM is a part of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. When the Bishop of Dallas, Kevin J. Farrell, saw the growing need for a Catholic priest here, he appointed Father Lackland. SMU went a long time without a priest, while the Catholic community grew.

Before returning to the SMU campus, Father Lackland, 47, studied music and vocal performance in Germany through a Rotary International scholarship. Father Lackland jokes that his first exposure to classical music was through Bugs Bunny cartoons, which he still enjoys today.

Father Lackland played his piano throughout Europe. He was a soloist performer through Germany, France and Italy. Being African-American, he said that being in a new environment while trying to break the language barrier was very difficult. He thanks his German professor at SMU for teaching him the importance of pronunciation. The culture was different, but still it was thrilling, he said.

Father Lackland returned to Dallas to teach music at a Catholic middle school in Plano. He said that being in that Catholic environment led him to want to go into the seminary.

“I still play piano, but I no longer teach music,” said Father Lackland.

In 2001, he entered Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. The Diocese of Dallas ordained him in 2006. Father Lackland’s first assignment was at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richardson.

Father Lackland is available to talk about faith in time of joy and crisis. Jerin Thenayan, SMU student and Minister of Liturgy and Prayer at CCM, said that Father Lackland is a great addition to the mission because he will be on campus often.

“The interaction with students will be ongoing,” said Father Lackland. “And you get to know them over time.”

Father Lackland acknowledged his quirky and youthful-side as a “good fit” for CCM. He said he trusts the Bishop’s wisdom in choosing to appoint him as Chaplain.

St. Anthony is Father Lackland’s favorite patron saint because “he’s never failed me.”

A statue of St. Anthony sits in the priest’s new office located on campus, along with books, paintings, and an “easy” button. It’s a big red button that Father Lackland occasionally pushes to remind him that things can be simple.

Father Lackland emphasized the importance of Catholic students meeting new people through CCM, mass, Sunday supper, and tailgating.

Tailgating on campus is also new for CCM, said LeBlanc. CCM tailgates for every SMU home football game. There is a mixture of students, alumni, and families at the CCM tailgating tent to promote fellowship and community, according to LeBlanc. It is a great way to meet with the new priest and meet with fellow worshippers.

More to Discover