Fall 2022 news and notes

Author: Cushwa Center


The Archives of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston recently received a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources to digitize a sizable collection containing audio recordings from the 1960s–1990s. The collection includes oral history interviews of 45 Boston C.S.J. sisters as well as chapter meetings from 1968 and 1969, and it reflects the significant transformation in the Church and in society after Vatican II. Preserving the audio collection lifts the voices of women religious and showcases the female experience of the social, cultural, and religious changes of the second half of the 20th century. The digitization process is a year-long endeavor and will be completed during the congregation’s sesquicentennial year.

Valentina Ciciliot (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) announced the launch of a new journal, the open-access Journal of Modern and Contemporary Christianity (JoMaCC). She also recently published “La violenza contro l’ambiente, Dorothy Stang (1931–2005) e i ‘martiri della creazione,’” in the edited volume Violenza sacra 2. Guerra santa, sacrificio e martirio

Susanna De Stradis defended her dissertation, “Making Democracy Safe for Religion: The Catholic Argument for the ‘Nation Under God’ (1939–1965),” in June 2022 and has accepted a position as assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University, to begin in fall 2023. For the next 12 months, she will serve as a postdoctoral research associate with the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Massimo Di Gioacchino has been awarded the Tiro a Segno Visiting Faculty Fellowship in Italian-American Culture at New York University for fall 2022. In 2015, Di Gioacchino was a visiting fellow of the Cushwa Center, and he received his Ph.D. in 2018 with Kathleen Sprows Cummings serving as his international supervisor. An historian of the late modern transatlantic world who takes the migration of peoples and ideas between Italy and the United States as his central theme, Di Gioacchino will publish his first monograph, The Ruin of Souls: A Religious History of Italian Catholic Immigrants in the United States (1876–1921), in spring 2023. 

Michael Engh, S.J. (Loyola Marymount University) is co-chairing the 12-member committee of the university’s Inclusive History and Images Project (IHIP). IHIP interviews alumni (or their children) of underrepresented groups to preserve recollections that otherwise would be overlooked in LMU’s 110-year history. IHIP welcomes alumni documents and photos to be copied for or donated to the university archives.

Dana A. Freiburger (University of WisconsinMadison) defended his Ph.D. dissertation, “The Place of Science in Nineteenth-Century American Catholic Higher Education,” on May 3, 2022.

Thomas Gaunt, S.J. (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University) published New Faces, New Possibilities: Cultural Diversity and Structural Change in Institutes of Women Religious (Liturgical Press, 2022), co-edited with Thu T. Do, L.H.C. The book examines changes in culture and ethnicity among sisters, the structural impact of diminishing numbers, and the creative responses to this new reality for religious life in the United States. 

Daniel Gorman Jr. (University of Rochester) and members of his digital history class at the Rochester Institute of Technology built a digital exhibit about the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the outdoor play that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints staged in upstate New York for 82 years. Scholars of Catholic pageants and youth camps may find the material interesting for comparative analysis; the site is viewable at cumorahlegacy.omeka.net

Gabrielle Guillerm accepted the position of Research Coordinator for Truth and Healing at Red Cloud Indian School, South Dakota, beginning in September 2022. Her dissertation, “The Forgotten French: Catholicism, Colonialism, and Americanness on the Early Trans-Appalachian Frontier,” was awarded the Harold Perkins Prize for best dissertation in the Northwestern University history department, and it was also a finalist for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic dissertation prize.

Dan Heckel (Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, Maple Mount, Kentucky) has published Hope and Firm Faith: The Story of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. It is the first comprehensive history of the religious community that began in western Kentucky nearly 150 years ago and continues today. Teachers from elementary school through college, the Ursuline Sisters also expanded into parish ministry, operating a retreat center and various social justice ministries. Copies are available for purchase at ursulinesmsj.org/hope-and-firm-faith-book.

Ephrem Hollermann, O.S.B., published Like a Mustard Seed: A History of the First Benedictine Women’s Monastery in North America, St. Joseph’s Monastery, St. Marys, Pennsylvania, 1852–2014 (Lulu Press, 2022). The book deals with numerous themes in the stories of Benedictine women in the United States: founding stories in the context of a growing country and immigrant Catholic church; the challenges women encountered in a male-dominated church; the burdens and successes of prioresses’ leadership; the hard work of renewal after Vatican II which sometimes did not reap the intended outcomes; what it meant to decide to close a monastery; and the actual steps toward closure. This history is an “inside picture” of the demanding work of post-Vatican II renewal and the processes aimed at helping religious communities revitalize, refound, and face their futures.

The Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies hosted its 2022 International Symposium on Jesuit Studies at Boston College in August on the topic “The Jesuits and the Church in History.” Panels included topics such as “Jesuit Universities as Catholic Institutions in a Global, Contemporary Context,” “Foundations in Lands of Missions: The Jesuits and the Local Clergy,” and “Philosophy, Theology, and Spirituality on the Eve of Vatican II.” A call for proposals for the 2023 symposium in Lisbon, Portugal, will be available on the institute’s website, bc.edu/iajs.

Stephen M. Koeth, C.S.C., was appointed assistant professor of history at the University of Notre Dame.

Rose Luminiello joined the University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies as a postdoctoral research associate.

Bronagh Ann McShane (NUI Galway) will soon publish Irish Women in Religious Orders, 1530–1700: Suppression, Migration and Reintegration (Boydell & Brewer, 2022). The book draws upon research she completed with support from a Mother Theodore Guerin Research Travel Grant, awarded by the Cushwa Center in 2019.  

Charles Mercier (University of Bordeaux) published “Religion and the Contemporary Phase of Globalization: Insights from a Study of John Paul II’s World Youth Days” in Journal of World History 33, no. 2 (June 2022). The article drew both on research Mercier completed with the help of a 2018 Research Travel Grant from the Cushwa Center and on a paper he presented at the center’s 2019 conference, “Global History and Catholicism.”    

James O’Toole (Boston College) published Ever to Excel: A History of Boston College (Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2022), tracing the history, challenges, and values in the making of the Jesuit educational institution.

G. Kurt Piehler (Florida State University) published A Religious History of the American GI in World War II (Nebraska, 2021), a new social history that illuminates the efforts of the armed forces to care for the spiritual needs of World War II combatants. In 2014, Piehler received a Research Travel Grant that funded a visit to the Notre Dame Archives to examine material related to the religious life of Catholic GIs, especially in the John Francis O’Hara Papers.

Roberto Regoli (Pontifical Gregorian University) and Matteo Sanfilippo (University of Tuscia, Scalabrinian Historical Institute) published La Santa Sede, gli Stati Uniti e le relazioni internazionali durante il pontificato di Pio XII: Studi dopo l’apertura degli archivi vaticani (1939–1958) (Edizioni Studium, 2022). With a foreword by Kathleen Sprows Cummings, the new volume explains the global collaborations between the Holy See and the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, covering politics, ecclesiastical affairs, refugees, and migration in places ranging from Europe and the Middle East to Latin American and East Asia.

Jacqueline Willy Romero accepted a position as instructor in history at Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, Georgia.

Federico Ruozzi (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia) published “The Arrival of Television in US and Italy: A New Catholic ‘Holy Crusade’ or Something Else?” in volume 14 (2021) of Annali di Scienze Religiose. In 2015, Ruozzi won a Research Travel Grant from the Cushwa Center to visit the Notre Dame Archives. 

Christopher Shannon (Christendom College), former associate director of the Cushwa Center, published American Pilgrimage: A Historical Journey through Catholic Life in a New World (Augustine Institute—Ignatius Press, 2022). The book narrates the story of the Church from the dramatic efforts at evangelization in the colonial period through the struggles to reimagine tradition in the late-20th century.

The Sisters of Charity of New York announce the publication of volume VI of its history, edited by Patricia Noone, S.C., and written collaboratively by a committee of sisters. The Sisters of Charity of New York: 1997–2020 chronicles the most recent decades of creative response to the signs of the times. Chapters address spirituality, government, membership, and ministries in New York and Guatemala, including education, social services, pediatric health care, affordable housing, and ecological/global concerns.

Christian Smith (Notre Dame) has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to study the cultural changes that have converged in the United States in recent decades in order to understand the significant decline in religion that has been occurring among young adults. The study will conduct both individual interviews from a nationally representative survey, as well as focus groups with leaders of cultural change in the United States. Interviewees include those who have left the Catholic Church, and all interviews will collect information about views that Americans currently hold of the Church. Those wishing to know more about this research may contact Professor Smith.

Benjamin Wetzel (Taylor University) published American Crusade: Christianity, Warfare, and National Identity, 1860–1920 (Cornell, 2022). He revised the project, originally a Notre Dame dissertation, during his 2017–2018 postdoctoral fellowship with the Cushwa Center.

These updates from our network appear in the fall 2022 issue of the American Catholic Studies Newsletter

Image: Sally Bartos' Santuario de Chimayo, appearing on the cover of Christopher Shannon's American Pilgrimage.