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)
  • 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, 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 18th Annual Anne Drummey O’Callaghan Lecture on Women in the Church
Intimate Wilderness: Navigating the Sacred Space between Self and Other
Michele Saracino, Manhattan College
Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Dolan School of Business Dining Room

The 2019 Catholicism and the Arts Lecture
Art and Sacrament in Contemporary Poetry
Anthony Domestico, Purchase College, SUNY
Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Dolan School of Business Dining Room

The 24rd Annual Christopher F. Mooney, S.J. Lecture in Theology, Religion & Society
Catholic Theology and Gender Studies in Conversation
Julie Rubio, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara
Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Dolan School of Business Dining Room

Living Theology Workshop*
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
4:30 p.m.
Library Multimedia Room
*A joint meeting with the President's Seminar. Details below.

Living Theology Workshop
Saturday, October 20, 2018
9:30 a.m.
Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center Presentation Room

Living Theology Workshop
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
4:30 p.m.
Library Multimedia Room


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.


September 19, 4:30—5:45 p.m., Library Multimedia Room.
“What Is the Sex Abuse Scandal and Why Is It Important?
A joint meeting of “Living Theology” and the Presidential Seminar,* open to the entire community.

Presidential Seminar*
October 10, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Alumni House
Sex Abuse and Abuse of Power in the Church: What Is to Be Done?
Open to all faculty and staff, lunch provided.

Presidential Seminar*
November 7, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Alumni House
Higher Education and the Abuse of Power
Open to all faculty and staff, lunch provided.

A One-Day Academic Conference, date TBA
Sex Abuse, the Church and the Catholic University: What Is Our Ecclesial Responsibility?


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

[The Presidential Seminar on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition has met three times a semester for the past twelve years. It is a largely faculty group, devoted to discussion and debate of a wide range of issues significant to the intellectual life of Fairfield 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.

Related link


Event Archives

Previous Catholic Studies Events

Online Resources

Search Results