Loyola University Chicago

Catholic Studies

Affiliated faculty



Michael Burns, Department of Biology

Michael Burns is an Assistant Professor of Biology whose research focuses on cancer and the microbiome. Additionally, he is exploring the interactions between science and religion, including projects on vaccine hesitancy among religious people. He has been running an extra-curricular Science and Religion discussion group with Dr. Joseph Vukov (Philosophy) since 2017 that brings students together to talk through challenges where the two areas intersect. Additionally, with support from the Hank Center for Catholic Intellecual Heritage, he has developed an interdisciplinary course pairing (with Dr. Vukov) for Catholic Studies, collectively called, Philosophy and Biology for the Future. This concurrent pair of courses expose students to the fine detail of the science behind human genetic enhancement, climate change, and a variety of other scientific topics while at the same time, the students will be integrating the philosophical and religious considerations related to these topics.


Jeffrey Fisher, Department of Philosophy 

Jeffrey Fisher is Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Loyola. He will be regularly teaching a course for Catholic Studies, titled “The Philosophical Foundations of Catholic Social Thought”, which introduces students to the rich history of Catholic philosophy and the manner in which Catholic Social Thought grew out of this tradition. His research focuses on Ancient Greek philosophy, including Plato's late metaphysics and its connections to the ethical and political philosophy of both Plato and Aristotle, and he runs an ancient philosophy reading group for the Philosophy Department. His has research and teaching interests in ethics and political philosophy and in the history of philosophy more generally.


Naomi Fisher, Department of Philosophy
Director, Catholic Studies Program

Naomi Fisher is Director of Catholic Studies and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. She has broad interests in the history of philosophy and the interplay between that history and the history of Christianity. She specializes in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and his immediate successors, focusing particularly on personhood, freedom, and nature. She also as a graduate degree in Physics from UC Davis and has teaching interests in the relationship between science and religion. She is on the executive board of Philosophers in Jesuit Education and runs a working group in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition for the Hank Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage. She is currently developing a course for Catholic Studies titled “Platonism and Catholicism”,  to be taught in Fall 2022. 



Fr. Paddy Gilger, S. J., Department of Sociology

Fr. Paddy Gilger is a Jesuit priest and Assistant Professor of Sociology at LUC. He was a co-founder of The Jesuit Post, and currently serves as the consulting editor for culture at America Media. His dissertation was a comparative study of three of the new ecclesial movement in the Catholic Church — the Focolare, Sant’Egidio, and Communion and Liberation — and here at Loyola he teaches and studies about religion, secularism, and social theory. He tweets at @paddygilgersj. 


Richard Kim, Department of Philosophy

Richard Kim is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He specializes in moral philosophy, moral psychology, and East Asian philosophy. He is interested in drawing on the resources of the Catholic tradition to develop richer accounts of human flourishing through a more profound understanding of human identity and the self. He is currently working on a book on habituation and moral development that draws on the ideas of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the classical Confucian tradition. 


Fr. James Murphy, S.J., Department of Philosophy

Fr. James Murphy has been Associate Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago since 2009. Prior to that he was lecturer in philosophy at Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin, Ireland for many years. He has written articles on issues of public policy (in the Irish-EU context), as well as a monograph, War’s Ends (Georgetown University Press, 2014) on the ethics of going to war. His main interests lie in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science. He has written course-textbooks in philosophy of science and philosophy of the person. He is currently completing a monograph on how we relate to (or confront) history. He is a Catholic priest, and a Jesuit.


Michael Murphy, Department of Theology
Director of the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage

Michael P. Murphy is Director of Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage. His research interests are in Theology and Literature, Sacramental Theology, and the literary/political cultures of Catholicism—but he also thinks and writes about issues in eco-theology and social ethics. Dr. Murphy, a Senior Lecturer in the Theology Department, is a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow. Mikes' first book, A Theology of Criticism: Balthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination (Oxford), was named a "Distinguished Publication" in 2008 by the American Academy of Religion. His most recent scholarly work is an edited volume (with Melissa Bradshaw), this need to dance/this need to kneel: Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith (Wipf and Stock, 2019). Dr. Murphy was also the second Director of Loyola University Chicago’s Catholic Studies Interdisciplinary Minor Program (serving from 2012-2021). His work explores the idea that the Catholic intellectual tradition is not only an essential resource for content but is also one with a deeply ingrained interdisciplinary method as well. This scholarly orientation is also a pedagogy—whether in the classroom or in Hank Center programming—and it seeks to bear its nourishing mark in every expression.  


Rebecca Ruppar, Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Rebecca Ruppar is an Instructor of Art History in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts and also teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences Interdisciplinary Honors Program. She has had a lifelong fascination with the intersection of visual art and religion. After working as a Catholic campus minister and retreat director, she moved to Belgium where she learned to write sacred icons and earned a Master’s degree in Theology and Religious Studies from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. She earned Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri, focusing on late antique and medieval European and Byzantine art and architecture. Her research centers on the material and iconographic aspects of thirteenth century Franciscan paintings in their response to heterodoxy. She regularly contributes to the Catholic Studies minor, teaching classes such as FNAR 344: Early Italian Renaissance Art and FNAR 349: Art and the Catholic Tradition.


Lauren Schwer, Associate Director of Mission Integration 

Lauren Schwer is the Associate Director in the Division of Mission Integration at Loyola University Chicago, where she develops mission-based content for faculty and staff. She regularly teaches CATH 296: All Things Ignatian for the Catholic Studies minor, and also teaches courses on Ignatian Spirituality in the Institute for Pastoral Studies and directs internships for the Jesuit community at Loyola. She served as the Associate Director in Campus Ministry for eleven years, and is currently working on a Doctor in Ministry at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. 



Jayme Stayer, S.J., Department of English

Currently Associate Professor of English, Jayme Stayer is interested in the intersections of literature, poetry, music, theology, and rhetoric. In addition to articles on these subjects, Dr. Stayer is the co-editor, with Ronald Schuchard and Iman Javadi, of Volume 5 (1934-1939) of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot (Johns Hopkins, 2017), winner of the Modern Language Association Prize for a Scholarly Edition. His most recent book is Becoming T. S. Eliot: The Rhetoric of Voice and Audience in “Inventions of the March Hare” (Johns Hopkins 2021); other books include Think About It: Critical Skills for Academic Writing, co-authored with John Mauk and Karen Mauk; and T. S. Eliot, France, and the Mind of Europe (editor). He is currently working on a book on T. S. Eliot and religion for Penn State University Press’s Religion Around series. He is currently the President of the International T. S. Eliot Society. A professional singer, he has performed with the choruses of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Cleveland Orchestra. He joined the Jesuits in 2003 and was ordained a priest in 2013.


Joe Vukov, Department of Philosophy

Joe Vukov is an Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Philosophy Department. His research and teaching explore questions at the intersection of ethics, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind, and at the intersection of science and religion. In Fall 2021, he is teaching Philosophy and Biology for the Future with Dr. Michael Burns (Biology), a course that considers near-future problems from ethical, scientific, and Catholic perspectives. Also with Dr. Burns, he leads Loyola’s Science and Religion Discussion Group. In 2022, he will publish his first book on Science, Religion, and Intellectual Humility with Eerdmans. He attends St. Mary parish with his family in Evanston, and regularly presents to community groups there such as Theology on Tap. 


Xueying Wang, Department of Theology

Xueying Wang is Lecturer in the Department of Theology. Dr. Wang’s research interests include Christian historical theology, focusing on early Christian and medieval theology, and comparative theology, with a focus on comparing Christian theology with East Asian religions, especially Confucianism, Daoism, and Chinese Buddhism. She has published scholarly works on John Chrysostom, Augustine, and East Asian thinkers. Dr. Wang is also a translator, with the aim of introducing classical theological works in the West to Chinese audience. So far she has translated John Henry Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and two works of G. K. Chesterton: Dumb Ox and St. Francis of Assisi. She teaches THEO 100: Introduction to Christian Theology and THEO 299: Christianity through Time.