Center for Catholic Studies

Center for Catholic Studies

Catholic Studies is an inter-disciplinary inquiry into the intellectual tradition, history and culture, both "high" and popular, of the Catholic Christian tradition.

The Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University exists to sponsor four related sets of activities. They are:

  1. To establish and administer an undergraduate interdisciplinary Minor Program in Catholic Studies.
  2. To work to support the academic component of "mission and identity" education and programming on campus.
  3. To promote an understanding and appreciation of the Catholic intellectual tradition on campus.
  4. To establish programming for and outreach to the local community, especially but not exclusively the local Catholic community.

Contemplation to Attain Love

Voices of Others


The Center is directed by the holder of the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies, currently Dr. Paul Lakeland, Professor of Religious Studies.

View the Catholic Studies course list

For more information about the Center for Catholic Studies, please visit us in Canisius 200, or contact Mary Crimmins, Administrative Coordinator, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2097.

Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies

The Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies was established in June 2004, as a result of gifts of various donors in honor of the retiring president, Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J.

Paul Lakeland headshotDr. Lakeland received his Licentiate in Philosophy from Heythrop Pontifical Athenaeum, an M.A. from Oxford University in English Language and Literature, a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of London, and his Ph.D. in religion from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. At Fairfield he teaches courses on ecclesiology, religion and culture, and religion and literature. He is the author of some 35 scholarly articles and 10 books, the most recent of which are:

  • The Wounded Angel (Liturgical Press 2017) College Theological Society award for Best Theology Book of 2017.
  • A Council That Will Never End: Lumen Gentium and the Church Today (Liturgical Press, 2013)
  • Yves Congar: Essential Writings. The Modern Spiritual Masters Series (Orbis Books, 2010)
  • Church: Living Communion (Liturgical Press, 2009)
  • Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church (Continuum, 2007), which won an award from the Catholic Press Association
  • The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church (Continuum, 2003), which received the 2004 Catholic Press Association Award for the best book in theology
  • Postmodernity: Christian Identity in a Fragmented Age (Fortress Press, 1997)
  • Theology and Critical Theory: the Discourse of the Church (Abingdon Press, 1990)

Paul Lakeland is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the College Theology Society and the American Theological Society. His academic and research interests include the roles of the laity in the Catholic Church, the Papacy, religion and literature, and the relations between religious commitment and progressive politics.

He can be reached at

Dr. Paul Lakeland, professor of religious studies, was formally installed as the first holder of the
Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Chair in Catholic Studies

March 2, 2005

 Sharing the honor of the occasion with Dr. Lakeland (third from left) were: (l-r) Dr. G. Dennis O'Brien, former president of Bucknell University and the University of Rochester, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree; the Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., president emeritus, for whom the chair is named; and Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., University president.


Throughout the year, the Center for Catholic Studies brings nationally-recognized scholars to campus to share their expertise on a wide range of topics of interest to Catholic Studies. All lectures on campus are free and open to the public. Join us!

The 2019 Catholocism and the Arts Lecture

(Re-Re Scheduled due to inclement weather)
"Art, Sacrament and Poetry"
Anthony Domestico, Purchase College SUNY
Monday, April 1st, 2019, 4:30pm
Library Multimeda Room


Jewish/Christian Engagement Lecture

Rabbi Carole Balin, Auburn Seminary
Respondent: Dr. Elena Procario-Foley, Iona College
“Female Faith Leaders in Collaboration: Rabbis,
Nuns, and Ministers for (nearly) 50 Years”
Thursday, April 4th, 2019, 7:30pm
Dolan School of Business Dining Room


The 13th Annual Commonweal Lecture

“The Last Catholic Boyhood”
Dominic Preziosi, Editor of Commonweal
Wednesday, April 10th 2019, 7:30pm
Dolan School of Business Dining Room


The 2019 Bellarmine Lecture

"Saving the Earth: Ethics, Health Care and the Common Good"
Andrea Vicini, S.J., Boston College
Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 7:30pm
Barone Campus Center, Dogwood Room


Living Theology Spring 2019

Saturday, Feb. 2nd, 2019 - Dolan School of Business 4:00pm
Wednesday, March 30th , 2019 – Dolan School of Business 3:00pm
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 - Library Multimedia Room 4:30pm


For more information, contact Mary Crimmins, administrative coordinator, at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2097.

Click here for directions.


The Catholic Church, Power and Sex Abuse Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies Responds

As a Jesuit and Catholic University, our community shares the horror and repugnance of the whole church at the latest evidence of substantial clerical sex abuse revealed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. The Center for Catholic Studies is also deeply concerned for the structural problems that underlie the disturbing practice of multiple bishops covering for abusing clergy and, in effect, often enabling further abuse.

As a Jesuit and Catholic University our primary responsibility is to inform and educate our own community, and to take the kind of steps proper to an academic institution as our particular contribution to the work of understanding and eventual healing. As President Nemec put it in his address on September 7, the highest articulation of our mission is “to find the way as a university that we can best serve in the process of examination, empathy, problem solving, debate, discussion, and reconciliation within the Church and the broader culture, all of which is called for at this time.”

Consequently, this semester under the auspices of the Center for Catholic Studies Fairfield University will hold a series of events that focus on the sexual abuse and the abuse of power that protected the abusers while it all too often ignored the plight of the abused, and inquire into its causes and possible remedies. Our lecture will be:

The Sex Abuse Scandal: What's Next?
Peter Steinfels, Journalist and Author of A People Adrift
Saturday, March 30th, 2019 at 3:00pm in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room

This conference will be Fairfield’s contribution to a tri-campus initiative in collaboration with Fordham University and Sacred Heart University. 

Living Theology

Spring 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 4:30 p.m., Library Multimedia Room 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 4:30 p.m., Library Multimedia Room 

Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 9:30 a.m., Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center Presentation Room


Our workshops are free and open to the public. Please join us!

For more information, please contact Mary Crimmins, administrative coordinator, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2097.

Other Events

As part of its mission to promote an understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition of open dialogue, the Center for Catholic Studies occasionally cosponsors events both on and off the campus.

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Event Archives

Previous Catholic Studies Events

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