All Press Releases for May 22, 2018

Mary Christine Athans, B.V.M, Ph.D., Celebrates Nearly 50 Years of Professional Excellence

Dr. Athans was recognized as Humanitarian of the Year by B'nai B'rith

    PHOENIX, AZ, May 22, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Mary Christine Athans, B.V.M, Ph.D., has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

With nearly 50 years of professional experience, Dr. Athans was recognized as a Professor Emerita of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) in 2002, having served as a professor there from 1984. After retiring from UST, she continued to teach as adjunct faculty at the Catholic Theological Union and Loyola University Chicago, both in IL. From 1982-1984 she was assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She also served as a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of San Francisco and the University of Santa Clara (1980-1982), as Visiting Faculty in the Graduate Program in Theology and Spirituality at the University of San Francisco (1985, 1988, and 1998), and as Assistant Academic Dean and Dean of Students at the School of Theology at Claremont, CA, (1979-1980).

Dr. Athans grew up in Chicago, IL. She is grateful for her Greek father and his appreciation of philosophy and politics, and her Irish mother for her poetry and piety. She began her career as a student at Loyola University Chicago, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Humanities in 1954. She joined the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Religious Order (BVMs) in Dubuque, Iowa in 1955. After making her first vows in 1958 she taught junior high and high school (1958-1970) in Chicago, IL, St. Paul, MN, and Phoenix, AZ. She studied during the summers at the Catholic University of America, completing a Master of Arts in history in 1966, and at the University of San Francisco where she finished a Master of Arts in theology in 1975.

From 1970-1976 she served as Executive Director of the North Phoenix Corporate Ministry, a cluster of five Protestant churches, one Catholic church and two synagogues (one Conservative and one Reform) in Phoenix, AZ, which worked together in education, social justice, liturgy and communication. In the spring of 1975 she was invited to be the first Minister in Residence at the Pacific School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. She returned to Berkeley in 1976 and began doctoral studies. In 1982, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy in historical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, and also received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology the same year from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

A respected voice in the field of Jewish-Christian relations and American religious life and thought, Dr. Athans has written three books: The Coughlin-Fahey Connection: Father Charles E. Coughlin, Father Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp, and Religious Anti-Semitism in the United States, 1938-1954 (New York: Peter Lang, 1991); "To Work for the Whole People": John Ireland's Seminary in St. Paul (New York: Paulist Press, 2002); and In Quest of the Jewish Mary: The Mother of Jesus in History, Theology and Spirituality (New York: Orbis Books, 2013; Italian edition, Editrice Queriniana, Brescia, 2015). She is the co-editor of two books, and two journals, has written chapters in several books, and articles and book reviews in professional journals. She has been a member of numerous related organizations, including the American Academy of Religion, the American Catholic Historical Association, the Catholic Theological Society of America and Phi Alpha Theta.

Dr. Athans has been recognized throughout her career for her contributions. Among various honors she has received the "Humanitarian of the Year" Award from B'nai B'rith, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Sisterhood Award, and was named a Fellow of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research (Collegeville, Minnesota). She is particularly proud of her work at the North Phoenix Corporate Ministry, where she coordinated priests, ministers, rabbis and lay people from the seven congregations leading to the creation of a weekly television show, support of the community clothing bank and the Saint Mary's Food Bank, founding a preschool for underprivileged students in the Hispanic community, a legislative task force, arts festival, dialogue and youth groups. She preached sermons in Protestant and Catholic churches as early as 1968, and her first sermon in a synagogue in 1970. She is grateful to have been able to do both pastoral and academic work, especially for the opportunity to integrate her history, theology and spirituality in her most recent book In Quest of the Jewish Mary. Dr. Athans always reminds her students that they never know which doors will be opened for them. She never expected when she entered the convent in 1955 that her future would include preaching sermons in churches and synagogues!

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