As a professor in the department of Systematic Theology, Father Porter teaches courses that address basic dogmatic themes such as Christology (the person and work, the meaning of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth), Ecclesiology (the Church's origin and nature, its mission and ministries) and Christian Anthropology (the Christian perspective on human being, its origin and nature, its destiny). Father Porter also offers quite regularly a course entitled Priesthood and Ministry wherein he presents the uniquely Christian concept of priesthood (with its threefold expression in the unique priesthood of Jesus Christ, the common priesthood of all the baptized and the ministerial priesthood of bishops and presbyters). He also offers from time to time an elective in historical theology: The History and Theology of the Reformation.
Father Porter's teaching, research and writing, are characterized by the dual emphasis in his education on history and theology. More precisely, while a student at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., he received his basic theological grounding in the doctrinal tradition of Thomistic theology. Later he acquired a broader ecumenical sensitivity from his studies at the non-denominational Oberlin School of Divinity at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was a student in a program called The History of Christian Thought. His background in the arts, a B.A. in English Literature, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and as a student of both violin and voice, has enabled him to offer from time to time a course entitled Christ and Culture: Christian Themes in Art, Music, Literature and Film.
In addition to his academic studies, Father Porter has made an effort to explore first-hand Christian historic sites. For example, he has traced the footsteps of Jesus in Israel (Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, Jericho, Jerusalem) and the footsteps of Saint Paul in Turkey (Ephesus, Colossae, Laodicea). In Istanbul he stood before the pulpit in Hagia Sophia where John Chrysostom preached. In Rome in 1989, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29th, he assisted at Pope John Paul II's Mass at the high altar in St. Peter's Basilica. He has concelebrated Mass in the basilica at Assisi, St. Mark's in Venice and the cathedral in Florence. In France, he chanted with the monks of Solesmes, climbed Mont Saint-Michel, gazed at the windows of Chartres Cathedral. During two sabbatical years in England, in 1996 at Heythrop College the University of London, in 2004 at Oxford University, he journeyed to venerate Becket at Canterbury, to visit Thomas More's cell at the Tower of London, prayed at Edward the Confessor's grave in Westminster Abbey, made a week-long retreat at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, sat before the pulpits where Newman preached in both the collegiate church of St. Mary the Virgin at Oxford and in the parish church at Littlemore, and visited Newman's study at the Oratory in Birmingham. He also walked over Henry VIII's grave in the floor of the right side aisle at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. At Dublin's historic Glasnevin Cemetery he visited the grave of Jesuit poet, Gerard Manly Hopkins. At Glendaloch in County Wicklow he visited the ruins of Saint Kevin's sixth century monastic foundation. In Switzerland he made a week-long retreat at the Benedictine abbey at Engelberg, chanted vespers with the monks at Einsielden, and in Zurich's Fraumunster, he witnessed the artistic damage wrought by Zwingli's reform of the church. In China he traced the steps of the Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci. On the California mission trail he followed the footsteps of Junipero Serra. In Mexico he prayed before the image of the Virgin at Guadalupe, and, at St Petersburg, Russia, he prayed before the icon of the Virgin of Kazan. At the cathedral in Cartegena, Colombia, he said Mass before the tomb of Saint Peter Claver. In Spain, in the chapel of the Escorial he sat in contemplative silence. In Copenhagen he traced the footsteps of Soren Kierkegaard;in Vienna he visited the imperial crypt at the Capuchin Church.
- Ph.D., M.A., Vanderbilt University
- S.T.L., S.T.B., Pontifical Faculty of the Dominican House of Studies
- M.A., Brown University
- B.A., Providence College
- The Assault on Priesthood, Wipf & Stock, 2012
- A Guide to the Church: Its Origin and Nature, Its Mission and Ministries, Alba House, 2008
- "Sheep and Shepherd: An Ancient Image of the Church and a Contemporary Challenge", Gregorianum 82, 51-85, January 2001
- Salt of the Earth, Homiletic and Pastoral Review XCV, 51-58, July 1995
- "The Summa Contra Gentiles III, Questions 161-165: A Rare Glimpse into the Heart as Well as the Mind of Aquinas", The Thomist 58, 245-263, October 1994
- "Principles of Collegiality from Portraits of Presbyteral Assemblies in Acts", The Jurist 51, 81-102, April 1991
- "On Keeping ‘Persons’ in the Trinity", Theological Studies 41, 530-548, September 1980
- Father Porter has been the recipient of four research grants from Seton Hall University's Research Council (1989, 1993, 1994. 1995), and of the Provost's Award for Publication (2009), and in 2014 he was given the honor of "Researcher of the Year."
Father Porter has published thirty-one essays. Several appeared in theological quarterlies such as Theological Studies, The Thomist, Gregorianum, Communio, The Jurist, and American Benedictine Review. Others appeared in such pastoral journals as The Bible Today, The Saint Austin Review, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. Some were published in such magazines as Crisis, The Priest, and The New Oxford Review.