Biblical scholar enjoys her short time among University’s theology department

Published: April 7, 2016

submitted photo: mahri leonard-fleckman / MAHRI LEONARD-FLECKMAN comes to The University from a diverse background. She studied English literature at Washington University in St. Louis before sojourning to the Dominican Republic for the Peace Corps. There, she realized she wanted to study theology.

SUBMITTED PHOTO / MAHRI LEONARD-FLECKMAN / MAHRI LEONARD-FLECKMAN comes to The University from a diverse background. She studied English literature at Washington University in St. Louis before sojourning to the Dominican Republic for the Peace Corps. There, she realized she wanted to study theology.

MICHAEL MAZZUCA
Staff Writer

Assistant professor Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, Ph.D., never attended an English speaking mass until she returned home after international service.

Fleckman, as students call her, grew up in a Jewish and Protestant household. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut but her family moved to Seattle Washington when she was two years old.

Fleckman attended fellow Jesuit institution Washington University in St. Louis to earn her undergraduate degree in English.
Her life changed when she joined the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.

“The older women there had these incredible vibrant faiths that were embedded in the difficulties of their daily lives.
They really brought me to Christianity,” Leonard said.

She fondly remembers having difficulty translating Spanish to English during mass when she returned home.

After two and a half years serving the population in the Dominican Republic, Fleckman began her post-graduate studies.

She lived in New York for eight years, earning her master of divinity at Union Theological Seminary and Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University.

She landed her first college teaching position in an adjunct role at Stonehill College in Massachusetts prior to joining The University’s theology department.

Fleckman, who identifies as a “biblical scholar,” became familiar with The University via the small biblical academic community she associated with.

She decided to apply upon seeing an opening posted online.

Theology department chairperson Brigid Frein, Ph.D., had met Fleckman at previous conferences, but really got to the scholar during the interview process

“She has a very good way of communicating her ideas and she struck me that she would be a very good teacher and she was also very dedicated to scholarship in service and faith,” Frein said.

Fleckman is thrilled to be here, but is leaving next year to teach at Providence College.

“When I did the on-campus interview, I instantly felt comfortable here. It’s a really special community for a variety of reasons,” Fleckman said.

“My dad always said to me when I was little that I should find something I love doing so much that I’m surprised that I’m paid for it.”

Fleckman strives to do that every day.

Contact the writer: michael.mazzuca@scranton.edu

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