Catholic Studies at UC Celebrates Ten-Year Anniversary with Major Lecture Event

Catholic Studies at UC is in its tenth year, and what a decade it has been! Launched in 2013 with a major pledge from Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway, and attracting numerous gifts from Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the program in undergraduate teaching and public events is now well established on UC’s map of interdisciplinary learning.

The program has reached hundreds of students enrolled in courses from “The Catholic Intellectual Tradition” to “Catholic Themes in Literature” to “The Human Condition: Mind, Body, and Soul.” New courses to be added soon include “Great Catholic Films” and “The Catholic Church and Modern Science.” “I think that expanding religious studies is a good idea for a secular university given that so many young people are religious,” remarks Ellen Gruber, who majors in Political Science and Philosophy. “Also, Cincinnati has a strong Catholic heritage that ought to be studied.” Patience Phelan, a Psychology student, concurs: “I am not Catholic, but I would like to learn more about Catholicism and how it has shaped past and present society. Most could learn from the Church’s ideas and principles.” Marty Arlinghaus, founder of the UC Society of Saint Paul and now Director of Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, agrees. “We in the UC Society of Saint Paul greatly appreciate the Program in Catholic Studies. Many Society members have had the privilege of attending courses in the curriculum since the Program’s inception. In addition to teaching us about Catholic beliefs and practices from an academic perspective, these courses have helped students hone their critical thinking, research, reading comprehension, and argumentation skills. Instruction has also called us to practice the intellectual virtues, such as self-discipline, studiousness, courage, and magnanimity. The Program has created a positive and dynamic Catholic presence on campus while immeasurably strengthening both our lives of faith and our career preparation. We owe a sincere debt of gratitude to the Program’s donors for so priceless an education.”

The donors’ vision also includes public outreach to share the academic study of Catholicism with members of the broader Cincinnati community. The centerpiece of this effort is the annual Conway Lecture in Catholic Studies. The series has hosted leading American scholars and public affairs officials addressing such timely and important topics as the Catholic response to evolutionary science, the Catholic Church and immigration, and the Catholic theology of the common good. These lectures have drawn over one thousand guests in an ongoing and expanding relationship.

A further dimension of the program’s outreach work involves the Conway Chair’s own local speaking and student mentorship engagements. These engagements have included over thirty public lectures, keynote and other invited addresses, parish presentations, young adult discussions, and student weekend workshops addressing such topics as Catholicism and postmodern theory, the history of Marian apparitions, and the Catholic theology of romantic love. “Ruth and Bob Conway believed that what they had been given was a gift from God that they should share with others,” comments the Conway Foundation. “To give beyond their lifetimes, they started a charitable foundation. Ruth’s fondness for her alma mater and their mutual commitment to the Catholic faith and religious dialogue led to their decision to fund the Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway Endowed Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. They never realized how transformative it would become.”

George Weigel

To mark the tenth anniversary of this growing and dynamic program, the 2023-2024 Conway Lecture will be delivered by George Weigel. Acclaimed biographer of Pope Saint John Paul II, New York Times best-selling author, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and Senior Vatican Analyst for NBC News, he is the author or editor of over thirty books and the recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates in fields including divinity, philosophy, law, and social science. He has also been awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Poland’s Gloria Artis Gold Medal, and Lithuania’s Diplomacy Star. His lecture will address the complicated—and controversial—legacy of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). This event is open to the public. Here are the event details: 

Lecture Title: “To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II”

Date: Thursday April 11, 2024

Time: 7:00-8:30 PM. Author reception tickets and lecture registration will be available in January 2024

Venue: The Graduate Hotel (UC Medical Campus), 151 Goodman Drive, Cincinnati 45219

Parking: On-site structure directly below hotel

Inquiries: Contact Dr. Jeff Zalar, Conway Chair in Catholic Studies:

Author Reception Tickets and Registration: Visit the UC Foundation event website to register!

“Taking a class in the Catholic intellectual tradition was a true joy. The class took a solid academic approach, but it intersected equally well with the faith concerns of many students. The class allowed me to get a view of the intellectual history of my faith from a reliable academic and historical perspective. This new knowledge then allowed me to appreciate more fully the intellectual depth that has gone into our faith over the years, and to thus incorporate that same knowledge into my own perspectives. What I now know more fully, I am able to love more fully. It was a great experience and a great opportunity to be able to live out my faith in the context of my schooling, which is a challenging thing to do nowadays. I never pictured myself as much of a donor to UC as an alumnus, but a donation that goes specifically to the Program in Catholic Studies is something I could get behind”

Matt Gangidine, Biomedical Engineering