Professor of theology Mary Catherine Hilkert awarded honorary degree from Catholic Theological Union

Author: Carrie Gates

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Sister Mary Catherine Hilkert, O.P., in the classroom

Sister Mary Catherine Hilkert, O.P., a professor in the Department of Theology, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

The degree, conferred at CTU’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 20, was given in recognition of Hilkert’s teaching and research that deepens in others “an awareness and understanding of the mystery of our loving God.”

“Professor Hilkert’s work resonates deeply with the mission of Catholic Theological Union, which is to prepare effective leaders for the church, ready to witness to Christ’s good news of justice, love, and peace,” said Rev. Robin Ryan, an associate professor of systematic theology at CTU. “This is particularly evident in three areas of her research and writing — preaching, feminist theology, and the mystery of suffering.”

“Professor Hilkert’s work resonates deeply with the mission of Catholic Theological Union, which is to prepare effective leaders for the church, ready to witness to Christ’s good news of justice, love, and peace. This is particularly evident in three areas of her research and writing — preaching, feminist theology, and the mystery of suffering.”

— Rev. Robin Ryan, associate professor of systematic theology, CTU

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Hilkert said the recognition — her fourth honorary degree — is particularly meaningful because many of CTU’s faculty members have become treasured colleagues and friends over the years.

"I am delighted to receive this honor because I have long admired the vision of that unique theological community of scholars and ministers who pursue rigorous academic study in the service of being a transformative force in the Church and the world for affirming human dignity and the sacredness of God’s creation,” she said. “I share their commitment to pursue that vision in collaboration with intercultural, ecumenical, and interfaith partners and admire the many concrete ways in which they put it into practice for the life of the world.”

Hilkert, an affiliated faculty member in the Gender Studies Program and a faculty fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, joined the College of Arts & Letters in 1996.

Her teaching and research focus on contemporary systematic theology, with a particular focus on theological anthropology, fundamental theology, Christology, and feminist theologies and spirituality. She has written or edited five books, as well as numerous essays and book chapters, and is currently working on a book project titled Words of Spirit and Life: Theology, Preaching, and Spirituality.

She is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and has lectured and preached in Catholic and ecumenical contexts in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. She has also served as Visiting Professor of Faith and Culture at Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

In addition to this most recent recognition, Hilkert has received honorary doctorates from Providence College, Aquinas Institute of Theology, and Oblate School of Theology. She has also received numerous awards, including the Yves Congar Award for Theological Excellence from Barry University and The Sophia Award for Theological Excellence in Service to Ministry from the Washington Theological Union, as well as receiving the Veritas Award and the Ann O’Hara Graff Memorial Award in 2013.

Hilkert’s most recent book, Speaking with Authority: Catherine of Siena and the Voices of Women Today, reflects on the saint’s impact while examining the challenges facing contemporary women of faith. She evoked the words of Catherine of Siena while addressing the graduates during CTU’s commencement ceremony.

“I hope that you will discover that what Catherine of Siena wrote to more than one of her friends is true: ‘To the servant of God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time,’” Hilkert said. “This is your time in the history of the Church and in the history of our world so desperately in need of those who can form communities of hope and speak words of truth and compassion.” 

“I hope that you will discover that what Catherine of Siena wrote to more than one of her friends is true: ‘To the servant of God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time.’ This is your time in the history of the Church and in the history of our world so desperately in need of those who can form communities of hope and speak words of truth and compassion.” 

 

Originally published by Carrie Gates at al.nd.edu on June 07, 2021.