Re-Energizing the Renewal

A Webinar Symposium Series to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council

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Over the past 2000 years, the church has called twenty-one ecumenical (universal) councils to address the challenges of a particular age in light of its tradition. Sixty years have passed since the most recent Council, referred to as Vatican II. This Council, which opened on October 11, 1962, and concluded on December 8, 1965, was conceived as a council of renewal. After four years of deliberation, this global gathering of bishops produced sixteen documents that bring the church’s living tradition to bear on the pressing issues of our new age. The renewal envisioned in the teaching that came forth from Vatican II was immediately felt in the changes to the liturgy. However, the renewal envisioned in the documents touches on every aspect of the life of the church and its role in the modern world. The Spirit Alive Institute, an educational ministry of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, invites you to join us in this webinar symposium to appreciate, celebrate, and deepen our understanding of the vision of Vatican II. The work of renewal is ongoing and needs to be re-energized by every generation.

Registration opens September 1, 2022
The registration fee for each session is $10
All sessions will be conducted via zoom
Sessions will start at 7:30 PM EST.

Cardinal Blase Cupich November2016 TM Email


October 11, 2022

Speaker: Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, PhD, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Chicago
This introduction will be the opening to the Vatican II: A Council That Will Never End session.

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Vatican II: A Council That Will Never End

October 11, 2022

Speaker: Paul Lakeland, PhD

Paul Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies and founding Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Jesuit institution in Connecticut. He has taught at Fairfield since 1981, serving as department chair in Religious Studies for ten years and six years as Director of the Honors Program. He is the author of ten books, the latest of which is The Wounded Angel: Fiction and the Religious Imagination (2017). 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 is a past President. He teaches courses in liberation theology, Catholic ecclesiology and religion and literature. In 1990 he was chosen AHANA Students’ Professor of the Year, and in 2005 he was named the Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year. In 2015 he received the Saint Anselm of Canterbury Award from Voice of the Faithful, Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, and the Trivison Award from FutureChurch. In 2017 Fairfield University selected him as a recipient of its Martin Luther King Vision Award. 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 also received Fairfield University’s annual Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Award. When he is not teaching, writing, or reading fiction, he likes to cook.

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A Reform in Motion: Vatican II and the Liturgy

October 19, 2022

Speaker: John Baldovin, SJ, PhD

John F. Baldovin, a priest of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, is Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He received his BA from the College of the Holy Cross, an MDiv from Weston School of Theology, an MA, MPhil and PhD from Yale University. John served on the advisory committee for the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy of the USCCB (1989-1993) as well as the advisory committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) from 1994-2002. He is past president of the N. American Academy of Liturgy as well as the international ecumenical Societas Liturgica. He is the recipient of a number of awards including, the Berakah Award for distinguished achievement from the NAAL in 2007 and the Jubilate Deo award from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians in 2021. Father Baldovin’s publications include three books, and numerous essays on liturgy in journals including Worship, Theological Studies, America, and Commonweal.

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The Universal Call to Holiness and the Universal Call to Participation in the Life of the Church

November 9, 2022

Speaker: Brian Flanagan, PhD

Brian P. Flanagan is Associate Professor of Theology at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. He is the author of Stumbling in Holiness: Sin and Sanctity in the Church, as well as articles on ecclesiology, ecumenism, and liturgy. Flanagan is currently working on a manuscript on synodality, focusing upon the celebration of synods as an act of collective discernment and therefore as a liturgical act of the ecclesial assembly. He serves as the President of the College Theology Society and as Co-Chair of the Ecclesiological Investigations Unit of the American Academy of Religion.

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A Council for a World Church

December 7, 2022

Speaker: Catherine Clifford, PhD

Catherine E. Clifford is Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Saint Paul University, Ottawa. Her teaching and research interests lie in the areas of ecclesiology, Christian unity, and the history of the Second Vatican Council. An experienced ecumenist, she is presently a member of the Methodist Roman Catholic International Commission. Her publications include the Oxford Handbook on Vatican II (Oxford, 2022), which she co-edited together with Massimo Faggioli, Decoding Vatican II (Paulist 2014), and Keys to the Council (Liturgical Press, 2012), co-authored with Richard Gaillardetz.

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Nostra Aetate: Journey to Dialogue

January 11, 2023

Speaker: Celia Deutsch, nds, PhD

Sr. Celia Deutsch, n.d.s. is a Sister of Our Lady of Sion. She is Research Scholar in the Religion Department at Barnard College, where she taught from 1987 to 2012. Doctor Deutsch teaches periodically at Holy Trinity College (Harare, Zimbabwe). She has written in the fields of early Judaism and early Christianity, as well as on Jewish-Christian relations. Sr. Deutsch is currently working on a commentary on the gospel of Matthew for the Wisdom Commentary Series that studies Matthew’s gospel from a feminist perspective in the context of Jewish sources. She is a member of the Theology Committee of the International Council of Christians and Jews, and a member of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. Sr. Deutsch is a member of Our Lady of Refuge Parish in Brooklyn, NY, where she is coordinator of interfaith relations, and is co-coordinator of the Interfaith Coalition of Brooklyn, a group of four communities – Jewish, Catholic and Muslim.  She is also serves on the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Commission of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

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The Spirituality of the Second Vatican Council

January 25, 2023

Speaker: Gerald O’Collins, SJ, PhD

After a PhD at the University of Cambridge, Gerald O’Collins taught for five years at Weston School of Theology (Massachusetts) and 33 years at the Gregorian University (Rome), where he also served as Dean of Theology (1985–91). He has lectured for the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), Boston College, the University of San Francisco, and other universities or colleges in the USA and around the world. He has published hundreds of articles in professional and popular journals, including Theological Studies, America magazine and the London Tablet. He has also authored or co-authored over eighty books, including The Beauty of Jesus Christ (Oxford University Press); Revelation: Towards a Christian Interpretation of God’s Self-revelation in Jesus Christ (Oxford University Press); Living Vatican II: The 21st Council for the 21st Century (Paulist Press); The Second Vatican Council on Other Religions (Paulist Press); The Spirituality of the Second Vatican Council (Paulist Press); and Illuminating the New Testament: The Gospels, Acts and Paul (Paulist Press). O’Collins regrets the way in which the spirituality of Vatican II is rarely considered in the volumes of material published on the Council over nearly sixty years. Vatican II famously emphasized the baptismal call to holiness, and its sixteen documents contain a wealth of guidance on how that call should shape the spiritual life of all the baptized.

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Dei Verbum and the Roots of Synodality

February 1, 2023

Speaker: Ormund Rush, STD

Ormond Rush is a priest of the diocese of Townsville, Australia, with a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. Currently Associate Professor and Reader at Australian Catholic University, Brisbane campus, he was a member of the Bishops’ Executive Committee planning the recent Plenary Council in Australia and was a peritus at the Plenary Council’s two assemblies (in October 2021 and in July 2022. He is also a member of the theological commission for the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome on the theme of “synodality.” His book publications include The Eyes of Faith: The Sense of the Faithful and the Church's Reception of Revelation (2009) and The Vision of Vatican II: Its Fundamental Principles (2019). He is currently involved in writing an intercontinental commentary on Dei Verbum, part of a 12-volume series on Vatican II’s documents and their global reception after the council.

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Being the Church in the World: Joys and Griefs, Then and Now

February 15, 2023

Speaker: Marcus Mescher, PhD

Marcus Mescher, PhD, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, specializes in Catholic Social Thought and moral formation. He gives presentations to parishes and schools on a variety of topics, including the theology of Pope Francis and theories and practices for justice and peace. He writes on numerous dimensions of the moral life, ranging from ecological ethics to marriage and family life to the impact of digital devices and social media on identity, agency, and relationships. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters. His work appears in both academic and popular publications, including the Journal of Moral Theology and the Journal of Catholic Social Thought, America magazine and National Catholic Reporter. He published his first book, The Ethics of Encounter: Christian Neighbor Love as a Practice of Solidarity, with Orbis in 2020 and developed the Fratelli Tutti Study Guide for Paulist Press, in 2021. His current research and writing explore moral injury caused by clergy sexual abuse and its concealment in the Catholic Church.

poses for a portrait at Santa Clara University on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Photo by Jim Gensheimer)

Beyond ‘Women in the Church’: Gender and Ecclesiology Since Vatican II

March 1, 2023

Speaker: Elyse Raby, PhD

Elyse Raby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. A Catholic systematic theologian, she works at the intersections of ecclesiology, embodiment, and gender. She has written on metaphor in ecclesiology (Horizons, 2022), on theologies of the diaconate (Ecumenical Trends, 2022) and on priesthood and ministry (U.S. Catholic, April 2019), and on intersex and theologies of creation (Theology & Sexuality, 2018). She has also preached on authority in the church for the online resource Catholic Women Preach (August 2020). Her first book will analyze the metaphor of the church as a body in nineteenth and twentieth-century Catholic theology and, in particular, how different understandings of embodiment shape our understandings of the church, its ministry, and its relationship to the world. She holds a Ph.D. from Boston College.

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Synodality as an Enduring Legacy of the Council

March 15, 2023

Speaker: Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, PhD, Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego, CA

Robert W. McElroy was born in San Francisco on February 5, 1954. He received his undergraduate education at Harvard, and received a master’s degree in American history from Stanford in 1976. Entering the seminary for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, he was ordained a priest in l980 and was assigned to the parish where both his parents had been raised. Bishop McElroy served has pastor at St. Gregory Parish, San Francisco for 15 years.

In l985 Archbishop Quinn asked him to pursue studies in the field of Catholic social teaching. He received a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in political science from Stanford in l989. In the following years he served the Archdiocese of San Francisco as vicar general and as a pastor, and in 2010 Pope Benedict appointed him auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. In 2015 Pope Francis appointed him bishop of San Diego.

Bishop McElroy has written two books: The Search for an American Public Theology and Morality and American Foreign Policy. In addition he has written a series of articles on theology and public policy for a variety of journals.

Bishop McElroy currently serves as the President of the California Catholic Conference and a member of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.