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Lilly Grant Will Bring Catholic Conference to SHU in 2020

Three-day conference will focus on keeping the Catholic intellectual tradition alive

Sacred Heart University will host a collaborative regional conference on the Catholic intellectual tradition for universities in April 2020 through a grant from the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts.

The Lilly Fellows Program seeks to renew and enhance the connections between Christianity and the academic vocation at church-related colleges and universities. The program awarded the grant to SHU’s Department of Catholic Studies to host the conference.  

The conference will take place at SHU April 16-18, 2020, in partnership with Seton Hall University of South Orange, N.J. “The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: Challenges and Opportunities for the Catholic University in the 21st Century” aims to explore how the Catholic intellectual tradition can inform all sectors of a university and provide an opportunity for Catholic university representatives to come together and determine how the Catholic intellectual tradition can be enacted and implemented on their campuses.

Catholic colleges and universities face challenges such as growing secularism and vocationalism among students, said Michelle Loris, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Catholic Studies Department chair. An increasing number of students identify as “nones” regarding religious affiliation. Confronted with these challenges and more, Catholic institutions are dealing with the question of how to maintain a robust and distinct Catholic identity to prepare students intellectually, spiritually, religiously and socially for the contemporary world. Colleges are trying to meet these challenges by affirming their institution’s engagement in the Catholic intellectual tradition, Loris said.

“When we developed the idea for this project, we were delighted to invite our colleagues at Seton Hall to join us because of their commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Loris said. “Because of SHU’s longtime commitment to engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition, we believe the power of this tradition can transform Catholic higher education today, and we are eager to invite our colleagues—faculty, administrators and students—from regional

Catholic colleges and universities to participate in this conference. We can all join in conversation and share ideas and best practices about the ongoing development and transmission of the Catholic intellectual tradition throughout Catholic institutions of higher learning.”

The conference will include guest speakers, panel and roundtable discussions, workshops and prayer sessions. It is open to faculty, administrators, student-life personnel, students and campus teams who address the challenges and opportunities for integrating the Catholic intellectual tradition at their colleges or universities.

Loris said the conference organizers intend to initiate lively, dynamic and wide-ranging conversations that can begin with the conference and continue at home institutions.

Loris, Fr. Anthony Ciorra, June-Anne Greeley, Daniel Rober and Brent Little from SHU, and Nancy Enright and Fr. Richard Liddy from Seton Hall, will work on planning the conference.