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McKenna Lecturer to Discuss Sport, Wellbeing, Ethics and Faith

Katherine Stohlman

Fr Vlad

Msgr. Vladimir Felzmann, Ph.D., will present the McKenna Lecture in Business and Professional Ethics on Monday, September 19 at 4 p.m. in Knott Auditorium. The lecture will focus on “Sport, Wellbeing, Ethics and Faith for Business and Life.”

fr-vlad-in-text-2.pngThe annual McKenna Lecture calls attention to various issues of ethics and wellbeing in the professional world and is particularly for students in the Mount’s Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business. Matthew McKenna, who worked as the senior vice president and treasurer for Pepsi Co. and is a former member of the Mount St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees, established the lecture through a generous donation in 2001.

Felzmann, affectionately known as “Father Vlad,” is a visiting professor at St. Mary’s University Twickenham in London and the director of their SWIFT Centre, which aims to help students succeed through sport, wellbeing, inclusion and faith. Over a decade ago, he founded the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, a charitable organization that supports school sports teams and clubs in pursuing athletics in a values-driven way that educates the whole person. He is also the CEO of the foundation.

Born in 1939 in the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia), Felzmann moved to London as a child after the end of World War II. His love for sports was born from his experience as a young immigrant—before he could speak English and communicate with other children in London, he could make friends through playing sports. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Imperial College and went on to receive his doctorate in divinity from the Lateran University in Rome. In 1969, he was ordained to the priesthood. Thirty years later, Pope St. John Paul II conferred upon him the title of monsignor.

In addition to starting the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, Felzmann founded two peer educational and retreat centers, SPEC and LOFT, in London, and an additional center called SPECeast in Wapping, United Kingdom. He also started the annual Diocese of Westminster pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, and led two of these trips.

Ever-active and ever-philanthropic, in 2021 Felzmann undertook a challenge to raise money for a new organ for the St. Mary’s campus chapel, by walking 83 half-marathons on the Sir Mo Farah track. He walked eighty-three sets of 52 laps (52 laps being a half-marathon on that particular track) over the course of a year. The numbers commemorated both his 52nd year of priesthood and his upcoming 83rd birthday.

The lecture will be held in person as well as livestreamed.

Katherine Stohlman