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Noted Theology Expert Remembered as Authority on Spiritual Traditions


Ewert H. Cousins, Ph.D., professor emeritus of theology at Fordham, died on May 30.

“He was a highly respected and well-loved scholar,” said Terrence Tilley, Ph.D., chair of the theology department. “He guided many students through the intricacies involved in studying the history of Christian spirituality. He edited a series that brought some of the spiritual classics to life. He will be sorely missed.”

A wake will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. onFriday, June 5. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 6 at:

Church of the Nativity
48 East Street (Route 132)
Bethlehem, Conn.
(203) 266-5211

Cousins, a major authority on Western and world spiritual traditions, received the Graduate School of Education’s Founders Award in 2008. In addition, he was given a standing ovation at the 2008 Gannon Lecture, which was delivered by one of his former students, Rabbi Alan Brill, (GSAS ’94).

After leaving the Society of Jesus in 1960, Cousins joined Fordham’s Department of Classics. He later joined the Department of Theology, where he taught until retiring in 2002. Cousins served as the director of Fordham’s Spirituality Center and taught religious studies classes at New York University, Barnard College and Columbia University.

Ewert Cousins, Ph.D. Photo courtesy of Hilary Cousins

Cousins organized numerous conferences to bring members of different faiths together in dialogue. In 1975, he coordinated the Spiritual Summit Conference at the United Nations, the first time the world’s religious leaders spoke from the podium of the General Assembly. At the conference, Cousins had the honor of introducing Mother Theresa.

One of Cousins’ greatest contributions was making the touchstone texts of Western religions accessible to a wide audience. Together with Richard Payne, he conceived and edited the series, The Classics of Western Spirituality, a groundbreaking 107-volume series of classical works from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. He was also general editor of the 25-volume series, World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest.

Cousins was the author of several books and articles on theology, including Christ of the 21st Century(Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994) and Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God, the Tree of Life, the Life of St. Francis (Paulist Press, 1978).

He was a member of the advisory board for the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue; co-convenor of the Commission on World Spirituality; and was consultant to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1973 to 1984.

Cousins was predeceased by his first wife, Kathryn McCambridge, and survived by his second wife, Janet Kvamme Cousins, son Hilary, daughters Sara and Emily, and six grandchidlren. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VNA Northwest, 607 Bantam Road, Bantam, CT 06750.


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