St. Thomas More Lecture will feature panel of teachers exploring the question of how Catholic are Catholic schools today

Are Catholic universities still Catholic? On Tuesday, April 7, Fairfield University's St. Thomas More Lecture will feature an engaging panel of Catholic educators tackling that multi-faceted question. The panel, led by Rev. Rick Ryscavage, S.J., director of Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and professor of sociology, will feature Deacon James H. Toner, Ph. D., professor of political science at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell; author and columnist James K. Fitzpatrick, of Wallingford; and a Fairfield sophomore, Steve Cirronella, will offer a firsthand, modern perspective on the subject.

The event is open to the public, and admission is free. It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room, on the Fairfield campus. Presented by the University's Center for Faith and Public Life, the annual lecture is co-sponsored by the Golden Stags, a group of Fairfield alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago from the University. A Golden Stags-sponsored reception, also free and open to the public, will take place in the Dining Room at 6:30 p.m.

The series features nationally known speakers addressing social and political issues from a traditional Catholic intellectual perspective. Dr. Toner, who teaches politics, ethics, bioethics and moral theory at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, serves as deacon at Sacred Heart Church in Wethersfield. He has a great scholarly interest in the study of the formation of the Catholic conscience. His most recent book is "Worthy of the Promises: Building Catholic Character" (St. Paul: Borromeo Books, 2008). From 1990 until last year, he was professor of International Relations and Military Ethics at Air War College in Alabama. In 2002, the United States Air Force Academy chose him to serve as the Coors Distinguished Visiting Chair of Character Development. His career in education has also included professorships at Norwich University and the University of Notre Dame. He has written numerous newspapers columns, and has lectured extensively. He served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1972.

Fitzpatrick was a high school teacher for more than 30 years. He is the author of five books, three of which were selections-of-the-month by the Conservative Book Club. His books include "The Dead Sea Conspiracy" (WinePress Publications, 2002); "God, Country and the Supreme Court" (Regnery Books, 1985); and "Builders of the American Dream" (Arlington House, 1977). He has written numerous articles and book reviews that have appeared in First Things, National Review, the New Oxford Review, Intercollegiate Review and The Wanderer. A 1964 graduate of Fordham University, he earned a master's degree in political theory from St. John's University and has done additional graduate work at New York University, Iona College, and Western Connecticut State University.

Cirronella, of Rockville Centre, N.Y., is a Marketing major in the Dolan School of Business. He attended St. Agnes Elementary School and Kellenberg Memorial High School, both on Long Island. At Fairfield, he enjoys being involved in community service, Campus Ministry, and the College Republicans. Family is very important to him. He loves taking trips with his father, mother and brother. He plans to pursue a career in Media Marketing or Law.

For more information about the event or the Center for Faith and Public Life, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415 or visit

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on March 24, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 265

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