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Department ofReligious Studies


Faculty Updates Fall 2020

Catch up with Teresia Hinga, Jaime Wright, Joe Morris, GPPM, Gene Schlesinger, Frederick Parrella, Katia Moles, Bill Dohar, David DeCosse,

Teresia Hinga

Teresia Hinga had two articles on Covid-19 submitted July 1 and April 1 to The Monthly Newsletter for Catholic Ethics in World Church. She was a designated writer of the articles in the column entitled "Forum.”

She was also a panelist on October 28 at The Annual Flannery Lecture at Gonzaga University. This year the event was via zoom due to Covid 19. Topic: Perspectives from Public Health and Theology: COVID-19.

Jaime Wright profile picture

Jaime Wright

Update 1:

The Living Religion Collaborative's Technology Fellow, Zach Wong, was accepted into UC San Diego's MS Program in Big Data Analytics (Fall 2020). LRC wants to congratulate Zach and thank him for all of his work and innovation in developing LRC's Encounter Map. We also want to relay how he noted that his experience as an LRC Tech Fellow working with the GIS platform ArcGIS, managing student generated data, developing a more engaging user interface, and using American Community Survey data to enhance the Encounter Map user experience was an important talking point in his interview process for UCSD. 

On his way out this summer, Zach also created video training content for the person that would take his place. We hope to be looking again, soon, for a new Tech Fellow. So, if any RS faculty has a student in mind, please let Jaime know ( 

Update 2: 

Jaime Wright was interviewed on the podcast Dying and Rising hosted by Eva Hernandez who is the Program Coordinator for the Ministry of Consolation at the Office of Worship in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and currently a graduate student in Santa Clara’s GPPM. Dying and Rising explores matters of death, dying, faith, grief, and mourning. Hernandez interviewed Wright about how religion and spirituality are used to cope with breast cancer. (Data for this study are from his dissertation and a Kaiser Permanente Northern California IRB approved study: Scars that Matter: Breast Cancer, Religion, and Identity, Study ID#: CN-12MKwan-02-H.) 

Episode title: “Giving it up to God” 

Update 3: 

Qualitative Health Research (QHR) recently accepted an article written by Jaime Wright along with co-authors Candyce H. Kroenke, Marilyn L. Kwan, and Lawrence H. Kushi (Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California). In the article “I Had to Make Them Feel at Ease”: Narrative Accounts of How Women with Breast Cancer Navigate Social Support,” the authors used interview data of women with breast cancer (n = 47) to examine the emotional strain associated with social support, and how recipients navigate it in ways that protect themselves and their relationships. Based on their analysis of narratives of women’s lived experiences of breast cancer, they found that social support can be perceived negatively and associated with experiences of emotional strain. Interviewees engaged in strategies of avoidance, information control, and cognitive reframing to minimize emotional strain. The findings highlight the difficulties of social support from a recipient’s perspective and emphasize the importance of perception and agency in navigating this experience.

He will be discussing the findings of this article with Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Pathways Study Community Advisory Board (Dec. 9). The Pathways Study is a longitudinal study of women living in San Francisco Bay Area with breast cancer that examines how lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, quality of life, social support, and the use of non-biomedical complementary therapies alongside biomedical treatments affect prognosis and survival. Its overall aim is to better understand and hopefully improve the life and care experiences and outcomes of women with breast cancer.

Joe Morris

We are happy to announce that Paul Schutz and Bill Dohar will be joining us as Interim Associate Directors of the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries.  Paul Schutz will fill the role in Winter 2021 quarter, and Bill Dohar for Spring 2021 quarter.  They are both working to support and facilitate the work of the GPPM committee presently.  We are grateful for their support and generous assistance and look forward to collaborating with them in Winter and Spring. 

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This quarter the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries (GPPM) held a four-part series on Building Intercultural Competencies for Ministers led by Fr. James Okafor of the Diocese of San José, Jennifer Merritt, Ph.D., the Director of Community-based Learning at the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education and an adjunct quarterly lecturer in the Child Studies Program, Roselynn Pucan-Meagor, Pastoral Ministries MA’20, MPA in International Public Administration, the Director of Family Faith Formation at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Morgan Hill and José Vicente Gonzalez, Ph.D., Director of Personnel at Mount Pleasant School District in San José and a Catechist at St. Catherine of Alexandria.

The BICM series was designed to introduce educators, ministers, and pastoral leaders to basic awareness and understanding of cultural diversity. The sessions work to identify unconscious bias and develop skills to equip ministers for the integration of faith and culture for all ages and cultural backgrounds. The learning models included these goals:

  • Framing issues of diversity theologically in terms of the Church’s mission to all.
  • Seeking an understanding of culture and how it works.
  • Developing intercultural communication skills in diverse settings.
  • Expanding knowledge of the obstacles that impede effective intercultural relations.
  • Fostering integration rather than assimilation in Church settings, with a spirituality of hospitality, cultural humility, reconciliation, and mission.

Beginning this Fall 2020, the GPPM will offer an emphasis in Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Students will take the 7 required courses that all students must take as the core of the program but 5 of the 8 electives in this emphasis will be geared toward youth and young adult ministry. This emphasis will only be offered on campus at this time.

Eugene Schlesinger

Gene Schlesinger

Over the summer, Gene Schlesinger completed an initial draft of his next book, a study of the theme of salvation in the thought of the French Jesuit, Henri de Lubac — whom he learned, along the way, received an honorary doctorate from Santa Clara in 1969. 

Henri de Lubac received an honorary doctorate from Santa Clara

He’s furiously working on revising it, and hopes to have it submitted for peer review by the end of the year. (Everyone will be hearing much more about this over the next year or so!)

He was also interviewed for an article in Santa Clara Magazine, which focused on sacrifice. He discussed his research on the theme, and the way in which sacrifice has been weaponized as a tool for abuse and how it can be rehabilitated as a positive resource in personal and religious life. Properly understood a sacrifice is a gift, and gifts can never be demanded or coerced, only freely given. 

Frederick Parrella

Frederick Parrella, Professor Emeritus,  presented a very brief talk on Paul Tillich and the Pandemic at the two-hour virtual meeting of the North American Paul Tillich Society on November 21.

Katia Moles

Katia Moles was selected by a panel of judges from the editorial board as a third-place winner of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion’s Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Award for 2020. Moles’ article, “A Culture of Flourishing: A Feminist Ethical Framework for Incorporating Child Sexual Abuse Prevention in Catholic Institutions,” is highlighted in the current issue of JFSR (Sept. 2020), on the JFSR website and at the 2020 (virtual) meeting of the American Academy of Religion in November. The Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award was established several years ago in order to encourage and give recognition to the emerging voices of new scholars, whose research and insights will shape the future of feminist studies in religion. The prize comes with a cash award.  

Katia facilitated an interactive workshop, "Pedagogical Strategies for Fostering Inclusivity and Constructive Conflict in Sociology Classrooms," for the  Association for Sociology Association's (virtual) conference this year. Her proposal, "An Engagement Strategy to Enhance Student Collaboration for Synchronous Online Classes," was accepted by the American Academy of Religion Western Region's Education and Pedagogy Unit. The meeting is scheduled for March 2021, hosted by the Graduate Theological Union.

She also participated in SCU's Digital Humanities for Racial Justice: Teaching Showcase. Her presentation, "Community-Based Media to Encourage Young Adult Latinx Voter and Political Engagement" described a service learning project in which students partnered with Canal Alliance, a non-profit offering programs, services and advocacy to address the socio-economic and political barriers facing Latinx people in the Canal Community of Marin County. The organization requested media that appeals to young Latinx adults to encourage them to register to vote, to vote and/or to stay politically engaged. Students incorporated the input and feedback of staff from Canal Alliance and young adults from the Canal Community to produce media and brief captions to share with family and friends on Social Media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Examples of the media include (and if you would like an example of a caption for "Don't Stop Now"): "We intend for this image to encourage voters to stay politically active after the presidential election. There are both men and women, and voters of all colors, reinforcing the idea that there is no “right” way to look like a Latinx person; Latinx people come in all colors, and it’s time we stop generalizing Latinx’s into a narrow category when it comes to skin color"). [really long pictures]

Bill Dohar

Bill Dohar wrote an article last May for the Markkula Center on "Love and Fear in a Time of Coronavirus," addressing ethical responses to two plagues, the Black Death and Covid-19. In mid-September, he presented a Zoom conference at Most Holy Redeemer Parish, San Francisco on the theme of "Mary: the Woman We Thought We Knew." In late October and early November, he taught a three-week course in Church History for the Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM), San Jose Diocese. And, in anticipation of Halloween and All Saints Day, Bill did an interview as a 'thought leader' with SCU's 'Illuminate'  blog on TESP 82, 'Witches, Saints, and Heretics.' 

David DeCosse

Adjunct Associate Professor David DeCosse has the following to report: 

  • He just submitted his manuscript, "Created Freedom Under the Sign of the Cross: A Public Theology of Freedom for the United States" to the University of Notre Dame Press. 
  • He also completed an essay called "Equality and ‘Social Ethics Under the Sign of the Cross’: Reflections on Fundamentalism and Secularism in Europe and in the United States," for a book to be published drawing on papers from a conference in February 2020 at the University of Vienna called "Between Fundamentalism and Secularism: The Contribution of a Multi-cultural and Multi-religious Europe for Today’s Church and World.”
  • Video Link: "Voting, Catholicism, and the 2020 Election: A Conversation with San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy"
    Moderated by David DeCosse
    October 21, 2020
    Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University