Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, begins her term on Jan. 6 as president of the American Catholic Historical Association for 2017. Cummings, an associate professor of American studies and history, rose to the leadership position during the association’s annual conference in Denver.
She is a public expert on U.S. Catholicism and women in American religion. As the William W. and Anna Jean Cushwa Director of a center recognized for fostering multidisciplinary scholarship to interpret the American Catholic experience, she has published and spoken widely, including national media interviews. She provided commentary for NBC’s coverage of the 2015 visit to the United States by Pope Francis.
“I am privileged to assume leadership of the ACHA at what I see as a moment of great opportunity for historians of the Church in America,” Cummings said. “Historical research can help us better understand a number of issues at the heart of the American experience, such as immigration, religious freedom, and the roles of religious groups in the public square and the global policy arena.”
Cummings is the seventh Notre Dame historian to lead the ACHA, which promotes “a deeper and more widespread knowledge of the history of the Catholic Church broadly considered … and the advancement of historical scholarship in all fields among its members.” The association’s immediate past president, historian Liam Brockey of Michigan State University, is a 1994 graduate of Notre Dame. Another former president, Jay P. Dolan, was the Cushwa Center's founding director from 1975 to 1994.
Cummings' current book project explores the dynamics driving consideration of particular Americans for future canonization as saints.