Paul Lakeland, PhD, to Present 16th Annual Commonweal Lecture, April 19

Paul Lakeland, PhD, to Present 16th Annual Commonweal Lecture, April 19

Unity formation of birds at sunset.

Dr. Lakeland, the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies and founding director of the Center for Catholic Studies, will present “Beyond Polarization: The Grace of Self-Doubt” on April 19. In recognition of his retirement, he will be honored for his scholarly contributions at a campus celebration on April 27.

In his presentation of the 16th Annual Commonweal Lecture on Wednesday, April 19, Paul Lakeland, PhD, will address the contemporary problem of deep divisions — within American culture, the political system, and the U.S. Catholic Church. Beginning with an analysis of how the phenomenon of “the solidarity of the shaken” can bring people together despite their differences, he will explore the challenges of maintaining solidarity and argue that we must choose between “the albatross of certitude” and “the grace of self-doubt.”

"For at least the past 500 years, Christians have been riven by theological and ecclesiological divisions,” said Dr. Lakeland. “Today, those divisions have differing political ideologies encrusted upon them, and nowhere is this clearer than in the Catholic Church in the United States."

This in-person Commonweal Lecture, “Beyond Polarization: The Grace of Self-Doubt,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Event Hall and is free and open to the public; it will also be livestreamed for virtual attendance. Register for the livestream at

Paul Lakeland, PhD headshot

Paul Lakeland, PhD

Having taught at Fairfield since 1981, Dr. Lakeland will be retiring at the end of the spring 2023 semester. A recognition of his scholarly contributions, titled "Thinking as the Church: An Appreciation of the Theology of Paul Lakeland," will take place in the form of a panel discussion and reception on Thursday, April 27, at 4 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center’s Dogwood Room. Panelists will include Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ; Rev. Roger Haight, S.J.; and Massimo Faggioli, PhD.

Dr. Lakeland has served for ten years as department chair in Religious Studies and for six years as director of the Honors Program. In 2004, he was named the inaugural Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies and founding director of the Center for Catholic Studies. In the past 18 years, he has sponsored more than 100 major lectures and countless other workshops. From 2010-14 he also served as a visiting faculty member at Yale University Divinity School.

Teaching courses in liberation theology, Catholic ecclesiology, and religion and literature, Dr. Lakeland holds a licentiate in philosophy from Heythrop Pontifical Athenaeum, an MA in English language and literature from Oxford University, and a bachelor of divinity degree from Heythrop College in the University of London. He received his PhD from Vanderbilt University in 1981, with a dissertation on the later religious and political thought of G.W.F. Hegel.

In 1990, Dr. Lakeland was chosen Fairfield University’s AHANA Students’ Professor of the Year, and in 2005 he was named the Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year. In 2020 he was honored by the American Association of Catholic Universities with the Monika Hellwig Award for contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition, and in the same year received Fairfield University’s annual Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Award.

The author of ten books, Dr. Lakeland’s latest publication is The Wounded Angel: Fiction and the Religious Imagination (2017), which received the 2018 College Theology Society Award for the best book in theology. Dr. Lakeland is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Theological Society, the College Theology Society, and the Catholic Theological Society of America, of which he was President in 2018-19. He is married to Beth Palmer, University Glee Club accompanist, and they have one son, Jonathan, who, according to Dr. Lakeland, “has the sense to live in London.”

Register for the 16th Annual Commonweal Lecture livestream at, or join us in-person at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, in the Dolan School of Business Event Hall, located at 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

To attend "Thinking as the Church: An Appreciation of the Theology of Paul Lakeland" on April 27, please email your RSVP to For more information about Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies, please visit

16th Annual Commonweal Lecture: "Beyond Polarization: The Grace of Self-Doubt"

Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Dolan School of Business Event Hall

Additional Details:

Hybrid Event: In-person attendance is free and open to the public. Please register to attend via livestream.

Panel Discussion & Reception: "Thinking as the Church: An Appreciation of the Theology of Paul Lakeland"

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2023
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: BCC: Dogwood Room

Additional Details:

RSVP at, to attend the panel discussion and reception.

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