Santa Clara University

Religious Studies department

News & Events


Religious Studies News & Events

Religious Studies News & Events

  •  Religious Studies and the Bannan Institute

    Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2015

    Over the last three years, faculty members throughout the university, including several Religious Studies faculty members, have partnered with the Bannan Institute in building courses around the Bannan Institute quarterly lecture series or incorporating select Bannan lectures into their course schedules. For example, in Fall 2012, Mick McCarthy, S.J. offered a course designed around the six-week Bannan Institute series: “Sacred Politics: So Help Me God? Scriptural Authority and Public Conscience.” Students were able to engage with speakers directly following each linked public lecture. In Winter 2014, David Pleins and Oliver Putz each designed courses in conjunction with the Bannan Institute lecture series: “God and Reality: Emergent Scientific, Technological, and Religious Paradigms” and the related symposium: “Science and Seeking: Rethinking the God-Question in the Lab, Cosmos, and Classroom.” Both Pleins and Putz were able to collaborate with the Bannan Institute in the selection of speakers and the framing of the corresponding public lectures and symposium linked with their courses.

    This quarter, Theresa Ladrigan-Whelpley offered a Religious Studies course, TESP 183 (Ignatian Spirituality), in conjunction with the Winter 2015 Bannan Institute series: “Ignatian Leadership and Faith: Discernment, Dialogue, and Freedom.” Throughout the course, students were invited to explore Ignatian notions of freedom and indifference, Ignatian resources for intercultural and interreligious dialogue, Ignatian encounters with Jesus, Ignatian commitments to justice, and Ignatian practices of discernment not only through class lectures/discussions and their integrated Arrupe placements, but also through the contributions of living exemplars such as Jim Martin, S.J., Simone Campbell, S.S.S., John O’Malley, S.J., and Rabbi Abraham Skorka. The wisdom and witness of these “guest lecturers” significantly enhanced the way in which students critically engaged and appropriated the living tradition of Ignatian spiritualty throughout the class. Also this quarter, Akiba Lerner and Jean Molesky-Poz (among others) incorporated select Bannan Institute lectures into their courses and hosted Bannan Institute speakers for more integrated class.

    If you are interested in linking your course with select Bannan Institute speakers, or collaborating with the Bannan Institute to co-design a future quarterly lecture series in conjunction with a course, please contact Theresa Ladrigan-Whelpley, Director of the Bannan Institutes, or (408) 554-4383.

  •  Faculty Updates

    Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2015

    This quarter Kristin Heyer published “Immigration and ‘Family Values’: A Postconciliar Moral Assessment,” in Erin Brigham, ed., Signs of the Times (Lexington, 2014), which also features a chapter by JST Dean Thomas Massaro, and she created “A Catholic Ethic of Immigration,” Catholic Comments Podcast (Creighton University). She delivered Seattle University's Catholic Heritage Lecture on the church as a field hospital at the border(s) and a keynote address for Notre Dame's conference celebrating 50 Years of Gaudium et Spes: “‘An Echo in their Hearts’: The Church in Our Modern World." She also joined David DeCosse of the Markkula Center and Bill O'Neill of JST on a panel at Stanford sponsored by its Catholic community: “The Faith That Does Justice: Symposium in Response to the Heyns Lecture Delivered by Cardinal Reinhard Marx."

    Sally Vance-Trembath wrote an Op-Ed piece for the San Francisco Chronicle pertaining to a San Francisco pastor’s recent decision to restrict altar serving to boys only. She was also a guest on “The O’Reilly Factor," speaking about the role of religion in the struggle with the ISIS. In addition, she will be co-directing the on-campus Lenten Retreat: “From Ashes to Easter,” happening March 15, for the Alumni Association in conjunction with Fr. Jack Treacy. On March 16, Vance-Trembath was a panelist on KALW's "City Visions" program, which was titled "Can Bay Area Catholics and Archbishop Cordileone Find Common Ground?”

    On February 19, Oliver Putz gave a public lecture at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) in Berkeley. He spoke on the possibility of nonhuman transcendental awareness and of the possibility that some animals are in a species-specific personal relationship with God.

    David Pinault's article "Endangered Indonesia" appeared in the November 24, 2014 issue of the Jesuit magazine, America. Pinault also wrote an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal, entitled "The Allure of the Islamic State Vandal," which explores the complex confluence of the destruction of antiquities and the chanting of the Quran in an jihadist recruitment video.

    In October, Jean Molesky-Poz spoke on Truthful Witnesses: The Prophetic Jesus, the Prophetic Church at the Newman Forum in Berkeley. She continues to co-organize, Women in Conversation, a bi-monthly meeting of sixty Catholic women at Holy Spirit Parish and sponsored Mary Waskowiak, RSM, former President of LCWR and of the Sisters of Mercy in the Americas in February. Her chapter, “The Chancery,” has been accepted for publication in the anthology, Unruly Catholic Women, SUNY Press. In mid-February, she attended The Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination Conference at USC, and is continuing to work on her book tentatively entitled, Maya Days.

    During Spring Quarter, David DeCosse will be working on his book, Catholicism, Inequality, Freedom: An Essay in Theological Ethics, along with writing an essay called “Faithful Citizenship.” The essay compares the views of conscience of Pope Francis and is also a volume on the work of theologian and bishop Robert McElroy, who was recently appointed bishop of San Diego. Lastly, he is leading a class on "Conscience, the Church, and Pope Francis" during the Easter Season at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz, CA.

    On January 20, 2015, Ana María Pineda, RSM was invited to attend a Eucharistic celebration and luncheon hosted by Bishop McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose for Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras. On January 31, 2015, Pineda attended a board meeting of Crispaz (Christians for Peace), a faith-based organization dedicated to building bridges of solidarity between the Church of the poor and marginalized communities in the US and other countries through mutual accompaniment. During the weekend of February 7-8, 2015, Pineda gave a workshop on the History of U.S. Hispanic Theology in the Diocese of Reno to Spanish-speaking lay ministers. On February 9, 2015, Ana María Pineda, RSM and her SCU colleague Juan Velasco presented “A Legacy of Love and Justice” at SCU commemorating the 35th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero and the 38th anniversary of the death of Rutilio Grande, S.J. (see story on pg. 1).

    Paul Crowley, S.J. published an article in Theological Studies (March 2015) entitled, "Mystagogy and Mission: The Challenge of Nonbelief and the Task of Theology." In addition, Crowley is working on an event for April 29th, with the Religious Studies Department, along with the Jesuit School of Theology and the Catholic Community at Stanford. The event is cohosting Dr. Ursula King, who will be delivering a lecture on Teilhard de Chardin, marking the 70th anniversary of Teilhard’s death. The tentative title for the lecture is "Searching for an Evolutionary Spirituality and New Mysticism in a Global World: A Dialogue with Teilhard de Chardin,” which will include some attention to the implications of his thought for interreligious dialogue.

    Teresia Hinga has published a chapter entitled, "Of Empty Granaries, Stolen Harvests and the Weapon of Grain: Applied Ethics in Search of Sustainable Food Security," in a volume edited by Christiana Peppard and Andrea Vicini, S.J. The title of the volume is Just Sustainability: Ecology Technology and Resource Extraction (Orbis Books, March 2015). In addition, in January 2015, Hinga attended a conference in Tantur, Jerusalem organized by the Theology Department of Notre Dame University, where she participated in a panel alongside Cardinal John of Abuja giving African perspectives on Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue today.

    Maria Socorro Castaneda-Liles was the subject of a feature story in the March 2015 issue of Visions. In addition, she and her husband Josef Castaneda-Liles (University Relations) were profiled in a story in Latina Lista about their upcoming book on successful Latinos who were originally undocumented Americans.

  •  Eighteen Years of Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe at SCU

    Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2015
    Maria Socorro Castaneda-Liles, her daughter Lupita, Ana Maria Pineda, RSM, Maricarmen Bates, and Lulu Santana

    Ana María Pineda, RSM

    On Sunday, December 7, 2014, Santa Clara University in partnership with Sacred Heart Parish’s Teatro Corazón presented the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe in song and dance. The tradition began eighteen years ago through the efforts of María Socorro Castañeda, who was a SCU senior at the time and is now a faculty member in the Religious Studies Department. Prof. Castañeda-Liles had been inspired by Father Mateo Sheedy, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, who had a dream that the youth from the parish would have an opportunity to obtain a college education at a Catholic private university. Several other SCU members joined this effort, among them Pia Moriarty of the Eastside Project, Lulu Santana of Campus Ministry, Ana Maria Pineda,RSM of Religious Studies, and others.

    At the heart of this dream was bringing together two communities-- Sacred Heart parish community and Santa Clara University. One connection was the creation of the Juan Diego Scholarship, a four-year scholarship to SCU for a member of the Sacred Heart Parish. Another link was bringing students of Professor Pineda's class, “Hispanic Spirituality: Our Lady of Guadalupe" into contact with the parish. Her's was one of the first university courses nation-wide completely dedicated to the topic of this significant Marian icon.

    From the beginning, students visited Sacred Heart Parish every Friday evening to meet with the participants of Teatro Corazón. Through these extended conversations, students learned the profound significance of this celebrated Marian feast and the importance of community for Latinos. Throughout the years, class members participated in hosting the event on campus and some participated in the actual re-enactment of La Virgen del Tepeyac.

    Three years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of celebrating this event in the Mission Church of SCU, current course participants interviewed former students of Hispanic Spirituality: Our Lady of Guadalupe, which revealed the significance of interacting with Teatro Corazón/Sacred Heart Parish. One student explained that “For me the time talking with them is an opportunity to be out of the Santa Clara bubble and a time to immerse [oneself] into the community,” while another admitted that “It makes you appreciate what you have because you know there is that whole thing of how you [think] you are a poor college student, but when you see it from that perspective it makes you appreciate what you have...”

    For others the class reestablished lost connections: “My experience brought me back to my roots, in a way. I felt that growing up I had lost a sense of my cultural identity. . . Becoming part of the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe made me feel part of the Latino community again; it made me want to learn more about my culture.” Another student reported that “ This class taught me to re-assess what I thought I knew about what it meant to be Latino, Catholic, Mexican-American, all of it.”

    In conclusion, SCU has been enriched in countless ways by having this partnership with Teatro Corazón at Sacred Heart Parish. What students are taught in a classroom takes on greater meaning as they meet a community who lives the truths evidenced in the narrative of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The celebration has underscored the importance of education for all as two diverse communities are united through this cultural event.

  •  A Legacy of Love and Justice

    Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2015

    On February 9, 2015, professors Ana María Pineda, RSM (Religious Studies Department) and Juan Velasco (English Department) commemorated the 35th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero and the 38th anniversary of the death of Rutilio Grande, S.J. Their lives were remembered in a presentation that drew from poetry, art, and reflections of their spiritual journey. The commemoration provided an opportunity for Professor Pineda to share some of her research and to connect with a seminar on Romero and the Salvadoran martyrs, which she taught during the Winter 2015 quarter.

    Many are familiar with the story and significance of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and his commitment to the suffering poor of the country. His defense of the poor cost him his life. In the name of the Gospel, Romero’s prophetic voice denounced the abuses of the poor in El Salvador. He was killed in El Salvador on March 24, 1980. There is another lesser-known story of the Jesuit priest, Rutilio Grande, who is often only referred to as the friend of Romero. He was killed on March 12, 1977 for his defense of the poor of El Salvador. Many would claim that it was his death that was responsible for Romero’s radical conversion from a conservative bishop to one committed to the struggles of the poor in El Salvador.

    Since their deaths, both of these men have become idealized and presented as martyrs who died for their faith and for the poor. The story that is not told is how both Romero and Grande were ordinary men confronted by their own fragility and human limitations. For many students taking the course “Romero and the Salvadoran Martyrs,” this is the most compelling story. Despite their human fragility they found transformative ways of living in a world of conflict and oppression and found the courage to be in solidarity with the marginalized and voiceless people of El Salvador.

    Since his death, Romero has been considered a “saint” by many familiar with his life and ultimate death on behalf of the poor of El Salvador. In a similar way, even the lesser-known Grande has been thought worthy of sainthood. After many years in delaying the process of canonization for Romero, the Vatican announced on February 4, 2015 that Pope Francis had officially declared Romero a martyr of the Second Vatican Council. Romero's beatification will be celebrated in El Salvador on May 23, 2015. This welcomed news was followed by the unexpected announcement that the process of sainthood for Grande was begun several months ago.

    The students in the course participated fully in the presentation of “A Legacy of Love and Justice,” they spoke with Francisco Mena, executive director of Crispaz, in El Salvador, and they lived through the history-making events leading up to Romero's beatification.

  •  Alumnus Update from Mitch Finley '73

    Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2015

    When I graduated from Santa Clara in May of 1973, with a major in Religious Studies, I was so proud of what I had accomplished. Four years earlier, fresh from four years in the U.S. Navy, my high school grades had been so poor that I had to get presidential permission to be accepted by Santa Clara. God bless Father Thomas Terry, S.J. for giving me a chance! I didn't graduate with honors, but I came darn close.

    After a year off, I moved to Marquette University, where in 1976 I received an M.A. in Theology. Subsequent years saw me directing parish religious education programs and later a diocesan family ministry office. All along, however, I had a hankering to write, and in 1981—now married with three sons to raise—I began working full time as a freelance writer for many national level Catholic magazines and newspapers, including several articles that appeared in America, the Jesuit weekly magazine. Along the way, I also wrote for Santa Clara Magazine as the late Peg Major was getting it off the ground, and in recent years my work has appeared there again.

    Eventually, I began to write books, and today I have more than 30 volumes to my credit, almost all written on Catholic themes: call it all popular theology, I suppose. Regardless, I have Santa Clara in general, and the Religious Studies Department specifically, to thank for giving me the foundation I needed to attain any success I've had as a writer. Along the way, my work received numerous awards from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada and various other press and writers' organizations, including an Excellence in Writing award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. More recently, my wife Kathy Finley and I were invited to participate in a panel presentation in late September of 2015, in Philadelphia, at the World Meeting of Families—where Pope Francis will be in attendance, too.

    To this day, I'm still so proud to be a Santa Clara alum. Thank you, Santa Clara University.

  •  Applying Technology to Rebuild a Bible

    Monday, Mar. 23, 2015

    Religious Studies Associate Professor Catherine (Kitty) Murphy and Religious Studies and Classics major Jonathan Homrighausen '15 are working together to reconstruct fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  While Murphy was a doctoral candidate at the University of Notre Dame, she assisted with the publication of the biblical scrolls and knew that one of them needed additional work.  The particular scroll she and Homrighausen are now reconstructing—a two-thousand year old copy of the twelve minor prophets (see note below)—is in terrible shape, with some fragments still fused together in layers, many too dark to be read with the naked eye, and over 150 fragments with words on them that the original editor had not had time to decipher.  Furthermore, Murphy has discovered old photographs revealing fragments that were not catalogued with the official publication.  Even more amazing, and as yet widely unknown, Murphy discovered that the central core of the leather scroll still lies rolled on its winding stick in a box in the storage vault of the Israel Antiquities Authority.  This scroll is on animal skin, and the collagen has deteriorated on these inner parts of the roll, leaving little cell structure behind and giving the scroll the consistency of glue.

    While all of these obstacles have hindered research to date, Murphy regards them as opportunities.  Layered fragments preserve evidence of the relative location of fragments in their original columns, thus allowing the scroll to be reconstructed.  As reconstruction proceeds, it reveals the damage patterns and disintegration of the scroll that permit small unidentified fragments to be placed on the basis of their shapes and letter contents, much like a giant puzzle.  Murphy first xeroxed all the photographs of the fragments and built a scroll mock-up on paper to keep track of her reconstructions and placements (frame 1 in the picture).  With $3,000 in grants from the College of Arts and Sciences dean, she secured high-quality digital images of all of the scroll’s 300+ fragments, many of which reveal as yet unknown contents, and then began using Adobe Photoshop to create a virtual scroll.  The image files had to be scaled to each other, then each of the hundreds of fragments isolated into separate files with background removed.  This then allows Murphy to paste each fragment into its proper place in the virtual scroll (frame 2), and separate the layers of multilayered fragments so that they can be re-located into their original columns.  She also created a font mimicking the scribe’s handwriting so that the entire expected contents of the 52 estimated columns of the manuscript could serve as a base for testing fragment placements (frame 3).  She has traveled to conferences to share her work with $3,000 in support from the Religious Studies Department, and hopes to receive funding from the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation to subsidize travel to Israel to examine the manuscript in person on a sabbatical next year.

    For the past nine months, with the support of a $1,000 Faculty-Student Research Assistant Grant from the Provost’s Office, Jonathan Homrighausen has been able to apply his skills in Hebrew and Greek to the reconstruction effort.  He is helping to typeset the reconstruction for publication, while reading through the twelve minor prophets in Hebrew with Murphy and analyzing variants.  He writes:

    "As an undergraduate, it’s easy to feel like I can’t put my knowledge to good use for the world.  This project has helped me use the skills from my three years of Hebrew to good use.  I enjoy that greatly.  But don’t get me wrong: textual criticism is frustrating… there are fragments that remain unidentifiable, and we have found only minor spelling differences, not history-making variants.   But most importantly, throughout our collaboration, Dr. Murphy has shown me a model of the kind of work that creates good scholarship: slow, careful, often unexciting but always thorough.  I hope to carry this model into graduate school and my future life as an academic."

    That academic collaboration extends beyond campus. Murphy has begun conversations with people in the field to prompt an international conservancy project to “read” the unrolled and gelatinous center of this scroll.  Some promising X-ray techniques have been developed for a villa library in Herculaneum near Pompeii, whose scrolls were carbonized in the 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius, eleven years after the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden.  Two thousand years later, advances in technology are permitting us to read these incredible discoveries which otherwise remained concealed, even after being found, and to bring the study of ancient and familiar texts into the twenty-first century.

    Note: 4Q82, 4QXIIg. The Twelve Minor Prophets are so-called because their books are relatively short, and all twelve could be copied on one scroll. They include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

    Related Links:

    1. Online collection funded by George Blumenthal and the Center for Online Judaic Studies.
    2. The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
  •  The Allure of the Islamic State Vandals

    Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015
  •  Sally Vance-Trembath's Op-Ed Piece on the National Catholic Reporter

    Monday, Mar. 16, 2015
  •  Faith and Hope Drive Professors to Help Others

    Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015

     Professor Socorro Castañeda-Liles was featured in the Winter 2015 edition of Visión. 

  •  Vance-Trembath on The O'Reilly Factor

    Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015

    Check out Prof. Sally Vance-Trembath speaking on the role of religion in the struggle with ISIS.

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