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Curran Center Celebrates 10 Years of Lectures on Catholic Women


Sidney Callahan
Contributed photo

The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies celebrates a decade of extraordinary lectures about women and Catholicism next week, when Sidney Callahan, Ph.D., delivers the 10th Annual Rita Cassella Jones Lecture.

Callahan, a psychologist and Distinguished Scholar atThe Hastings Center, will deliver “Women and Christianity:  Unsettled and Unsettling Questions” at the Rose Hill campus.

Tuesday, Oct. 21
6 p.m.
Tognino Hall, Duane Library, Rose Hill campus

Callahan’s talk, the 10th since the series was made possible by a gift from Robert Jones, Ph.D., Fordham professor emeritus, and the Jones family. The lecture was named for his wife Rita Casella Jones, who was deeply involved in issues revolving around women and Catholicism.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the Curran Center, which is holding a series of events to celebrate.

Curran Center director Christine Firer Hinze, Ph.D., said guests expected to attend on Tuesday include Julie Leininger Pycior, Ph.D., professor of history at Manhattan College, who delivered the first lecture in 2005, and Connie Curran, whose husband John dedicated the center to his parents Ann and Francis in 2004.

Over the years, the series has featured a wide array of perspectives about women and Catholicism. Last year’s speaker, Fordham Distinguished Professor of Theology Elizabeth Johnson, laid out the contributions that Catholic women are making to the emerging field of ecological theology. The year before, Leslie Woodcock Tentler, Ph.D., professor emerita of history at Catholic University, traced the issue of contraception through Catholic history.

The lecture has also gone in unexpected directions too, such as Julie Byrne’s talk in 2011 about the Mighty Macs, a basketball team from the all women’s college Immaculata University that became the best in the country.

Firer Hinze called Callahan a groundbreaker who was one of the first generation of Catholic women who made their way as lay women into theology.

“She was a voice for Catholic women in the 60’s and 70’s when the post-Vatican II era was just beginning. She is also a psychologist, so she speaks from both theology and psychology. She also is the mother of seven children, so she speaks from that perspective as well,” she said.

Although Firer Hinze said Callahan is “fiercely Catholic,” she also is known for pushing the envelope in raising difficult questions about the faith.

When it comes to choosing a speaker, Firer Hinze said the Jones’ children are very active partners. Rob Jones, FCRH ’87 said he felt like he was reading his mother’s words when he read “Feminism at Fifty: A Catholic Woman Looks Back at The Feminine Mystique,” which Callahan published in the December 2013 issue of America magazine.

He said he saw strong similarities in Callahan’s opinions and views of “spiritual and transcendent realities and values”, “advocacy of motherhood, marriage, religious vocations, and love’s free gift of service”, and those of his mother.

“Sidney Callahan’s writings have shown her to be uniquely skilled at giving voice to that which motivated Rita Cassella Jones to be the person that we all loved,” Jones said.

A reception will follow Callahan’s lecture. To RSVP, e-mail or call (718) 817-0662.


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