Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture

Past Speakers

 This year, we changed the format of our lectures to feature not only an expert academic but also panelists who serve as community leaders dedicated to addressing poverty in our community.

2015-2016: Care for the Earth, Care for the Poor

“Tilling the Earth, Caring for the Poor: Musings on Stewardship and Sustainability"

Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ / KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Patty Bowman & Jessie Dye / PANELISTS

April 7, 2016

Given the ecological risks that face us and the uneven distribution of responsibilities, how can we overcome a sense of fragmentation and insularity? Reflecting on how Pope Francis’ call for an integral ecology resonates with those of us who live in more vulnerable parts of the world, we can discern pathways of hope, inspiring us all to are for our common home.

Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ is a scientist and climate justice scholar who currently serves as university president of the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.

He ​is ​currently​ the ​chair​person​ of the Manila Observatory, a scientific research institute, and is a technical expert for the Philippine government’s Climate Change Commission. His other responsibilities include being chair of Synergeia, an NGO engaged in public education reform and the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, which recognizes exemplary persons and institutions working for social transformation in Asia. ​

Patty Bowman, Director of Social Outreach, oversees ministries, justice education and advocacy efforts at St. James Cathedral. Patty was an attorney in Seattle for many years an is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. She holds masters degrees in Pastoral Studies from Seattle University and in Biblical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Jessie Dye, lead program staff for Washington Interfaith Power & Light, has a law degree and has had a long career as a mediator and manager, including 20 years with the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. She has also worked with the Seattle Human Rights Department, Washington Arbitration and Mediation Services, and Catholic Community Services.


"Integral Ecology: Pope Francis & Planetary Thinking"
Christiana Peppard, PhD / KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Christina Roberts & Wesley Lauer / PANELISTS
February 4, 2016
How does Catholic social thought draw connections between ecological destruction and social injustice? What does Laudato Si' say about the realities and dynamics of ecological sin, and what does this mean for human relationships with the Earth and with each other in the twenty-first century?

Christiana Peppard, PhD will deliver the keynote, which will be followed by a panel discussion. Christina Roberts, PhD will examine the rhetoric used to discuss climate change, highlighting voices and perspectives which are often marginalized, and Wesley Lauer, PhD will discuss the health of water systems in Nicaragua as an example of the ways in which water rights, indigenous rights and engineering intersect.

Christiana Peppard, PhD is an assistant professor of Theology, Science and Ethics in the Department of Theology at Fordham University, where she is also affiliated faculty in Environmental Studies and American Studies. Dr. Peppard is the author of Just Water: Theology, Ethics and the Global Water Crisis (Orbis, 2014), and co-editor of Just Sustainability: Ecology, Technology and Resource Extraction (Orbis, 2015). Her research engages environmental ethics and Catholic social teaching and has appeared in venues ranging from scholarly peer-reviewed journals to TED-Ed, NPR and the Washington Post.

Christina Roberts, PhD is a professor of English and Program Director of Women and Gender Studies at Seattle University. Her research areas include early to nineteenth-century American literature, literatures of the American west and frontier, and she has worked with programs that support Native American youth and first-generation college students.

Wesley Lauer, PhD is Director of Environmental Science at Seattle University. Dr. Lauer is a geomorphologist and engineer with experience in water resources engineering. He is currently studying the implications of long-term changes in environmental conditions on river systems.
"Are We at Home in the Cosmos? Challenges and New Directions"
Jason Wirth / PANELIST
October 15, 2015 

In Laudato Si', Pope Francis calls us to conversion, to a new level of consciousness that sees the whole earth as a cosmic family, following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi. But Francis of Assisi lived in a prescientific age, where cosmos and anthropos were held together in a geocentric order centered in Christ. Is our postmodern, scientific age able to embrace a new level of consciousness, one that sees the earth as our home? We will explore some of the challenges of Laudato si' and highlight the relationship between integral ecology and evolution, using the insights of Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
Ilia Delio, O.S.F., is a Franciscan sister of Washington DC and the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Christian Theology at Villanova University, will explore what it means to be called to care for creation. With doctorates in Pharmacology and Historical Theology, Delio offers a unique perspective on the interconnections between science and religion, particularly in light of current conversations on climate change and environmental justice. Panelists to be announced in late summer.

Jason Wirth, PhD, professor of philosophy at Seattle University, will respond to Sr. Delio’s keynote address, bringing his insights as a priest in the Soto tradition of Zen Buddhism.

2014-2015: The Church Pope Francis Invites Us to Build

“Think Globally, Act Locally: Pope Francis' Invitation to the Whole People of God"

Keynote Speaker: Edward Hahnenberg, Ph.D., Jack and Mary Jane Breen Chair in Catholic Systematic Theology, John Carroll University
Panelists: Linda Haydock, SNJM, Executive Director, Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center and Joseph Orlando, Ed.D., Associate Vice President of Jesuit Mission and Identity, Seattle University

April 23, 2015

In his first words as pope, the Argentinian Jorge Bergoglio joked that the cardinals had to go to the ends of the earth to find Rome a bishop. In that one line, Pope Francis signaled his vision of a global church whose mission is lived out in local communities—whether that be Rome, Manila, Lagos, or Seattle. Edward Hahnenberg explored how Pope Francis’ hope for a “poor church, for the poor,” demands consultation, collaboration, and commitment on the part of all those “missionary disciples”—bishops, clergy, and laity—who together constitute the local church.

Panelists continued a dialogue on what it means to view the Church as the people of God, a human embodiment of the Gospel that spans an array of cultures and classes.

Field Hospital on the Border(s): A Church in Kinship with Migrants”

Keynote Speaker: Kristin Heyer, Ph.D. Professor, Religious Studies, Santa Clara University
Panelists: Mark Potter, Ph.D. Assistant for Social Ministries, California Province of the Society of Jesus and Patty Repikoff, D. Min., Pastoral Advocate for Mission, Catholic Community Services/Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington.

February 19, 2015

Pope Francis has offered a compelling model of church as “field hospital,” calling Catholics to engage those who suffer wherever they may be found. Kristen Heyer, Ph.D. examined this model, one which calls Catholics to engage not only with personal issues but with social issues as well, particularly the exploitation, violence and family separation faced by migrants in America.

Panelists explored how local faith-based and community organizations—specifically the Kino Border Initiative and ministry to Latino communities on the eastside of Seattle—serve as “field hospitals” for migrants in Washington and California.

"A Poor Church for the Poor" 

Keynote Speaker: Jeanette Rodriguez, Ph.D., Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, Seattle University

Panelists: Ben Curtis, Ph.D., Director, Poverty Education Center, Seattle University and Gary Zender, Archdiocese of Seattle Vicar’s for Charities and Board of Trustees Chair for Catholic Community Services/Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington 

November 3, 2015

Jeanette Rodriguez, Ph.D. explored the pre and post-Vatican II development of what we now call, “the option for the poor.” Drawing on the conclusions of the Second General Council of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, where bishops emphasized the structural roots of poverty and power in Latin American, Rodriguez reflected on the Catholic Church’s teachings on material poverty, spiritual poverty and voluntary poverty, particularly in light of Pope Francis’ call to be a “poor church for the poor.”

Panelists discussed about the steps taken locally—at Seattle University and in communities around Seattle—to address both systemic roots of poverty and the immediate needs of the marginalized.


2013-2014: Catholicism in a Religiously Plural World    

“A Vision Meant to Stay ‘Centered’: Cardinal Augustin Bea, S.J., Vatican II and the Cardinal Bea Centre”
Philipp Renczes, S.J.
Director, Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies, Gregorian University, Rome
October 8, 2013

Philipp Renczes, S.J., retraced the historical posture and engagement of the Catholic Church with Judaism and the Jewish People, with specific emphasis on growth since the publication of Nostra Aetate at Vatican II. Highlighting the underlying challenge to Jewish-Christian relations, Fr. Renczes described issues of independence and contingency that arise from varying views of Jewish and Christian traditions. He posited an image of fraternity between church and synagogue, one in which each tradition is tasked with finding the meanings of sacred scripture in the contemporary world.  

“The Church in a Global, Pluralistic World: Challenges and Opportunities"
José Casanova, Ph.D.
Sociology, Georgetown University
February 14, 2014

José Casanova, Ph.D. introduced the audience to a historical tension within the Catholic Church between orthodoxy and universalism. Using the Jesuit order as an example and the reforms of Vatican II as support, he argued for Catholicism that emphasizes its catholic, universal, truth, one enriched but not undermined by its multiplicity of material and cultural forms. 

“Challenges for Interreligious Dialogue in the Church Today"
Catherine Cornille, Ph.D.
Theology, Boston College
April 10, 2014

Catherine Cornille, Ph.D. focused on the necessary orientation and parameters for engaging in interreligious dialogue. She expounded on the necessity of humility and hospitality within and between faith traditions, a humility that first requires engagement with one's own tradition. 


2012-2013: Vatican II: Achievement and Challenge

“Vatican II as an Event”
Joseph Komonchak, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies

Catholic University of America
October 11, 2012

“Vatican II at 50: Toward a Dynamic Understanding of Conciliar Reception”
Mary Ann Hinsdale, Ph.D., IHM
Associate Professor of Theology
Boston College

January 24, 2013

“What Will The Catholic Church Look Like in 2050: A Prognostication from Asia”
Peter Phan, STD, Ph.D., D.D.
Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought
Georgetown University

April 18, 2013


2011-2012: Religion in "Secular" America

“The Claim of Memory and the Power of Place: Reconsidering Religion and Spirituality in the Pacific Northwest”
Patricia O'Connell Killen, Ph.D.
Academic Vice President
Gonzaga University

October 27, 2011

“American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us”
Robert Putnam, Ph.D.
Malkin Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University
Visiting Professo
University of Manchester (UK)
January 17, 2012
*This lecture was canceled due to University closure due to weather conditions*

“Catholicism & Politics; Secularization & Secularism”
Peter Steinfels, Ph.D.
Professor, Co-director of Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture
Fordham University
May 8, 2012


2010-2011: Religion and Science

“Darwin, God, and Design: America's Continuing Problem with Evolution”
Kenneth Miller, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology
Brown University

October 28, 2010

“Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind”
Holmes Rolston III, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy
Colorado State University
February 10, 2011

“Theology After Darwin: Towards a New Religious Future”
Ilia Delio, Ph.D., OSF

Senior Research Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

April 14, 2011







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