Center for Catholic Studies

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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.


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.

Dr. 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:

Paul Lakeland headshot
  • 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., former University President.


Throughout the year, the Center for Catholic Studies invites nationally recognized scholars to share their expertise on a wide range of topics as they pertain to Catholic Studies. All fall 2020 lectures will be broadcast as free webinars and are open to the public. Please join us!



The 20th Annual Anne Drummey O’Callaghan Lecture on Women in the Church

"The Promises We Keep: Commitment and the Work of Showing Up"
Sr. Colleen Gibson, SSJ
Wednesday, October 7, 2020 | 5:00 p.m.
WEBINAR link to come



The 14th Annual Lecture in Jewish/Christian Engagement

-rescheduled from Spring 2020

“Loving the Jews: Philosemitism and Judaizing in Contemporary Christianity”
Rabbi David Sandmel, PhD
Director of Interfaith Affairs, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Educator, Scholar
Thursday, October 22, 2020  | 7:30 p.m.
WEBINAR link to come


The 2020 Catholicism and the Arts Lecture

(Lecture title to be announced.)
Fanny Howe
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | 7:30 p.m.
WEBINAR link to come

The 27th Annual Christopher F. Mooney, S.J. Lecture in Theology, Religion & Society

(Lecture title to be announced.)
Jamie Manson
Wednesday, November 4, 2020 | 7:30 p.m.
WEBINAR link to come


All Fall 2020 Webinar Lectures are Free and Open to the Public

For further information contact:
Mary Crimmins
Administrative Coordinator or (203) 254-4000 ext. 2097

Living Theology

Saturday, February 12, 2020 | 4:30 p.m.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | 4:30 p.m.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 | 4:30 p.m.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia 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.

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. 

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.

Event Archives

Previous Catholic Studies Events

Online Resources

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