Hank Fellowships in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

Hank Fellowships for Research in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition for Graduate Students

The Hank Center administers yearly fellowships for graduate students working on topics in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. These awards will provide $5000 of funding for awardees. All applications and supplemental materials are due March 15, 2024. Applications are reviewed by a committee, and applicants are notified of decisions by April 1, 2024. Fellowships run for Summer 2024, and fellows will submit a final report by September 1, 2024. Fellows will receive $2500 upon being awarded the fellowship, with the remaining $2500 paid after receipt of the final report. 

Funded by a generous grant from Loyola University Chicago’s Jesuit Community, these awards support graduate students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement and offer promise as scholars, teachers, and authors who will contribute to the dynamic life of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The Hank Center selects the fellowship recipients and administers the awards.

The fellowships encourage and support graduate students in their exploration of the Catholic intellectual tradition in its many disciplinary and creative forms—in theology and philosophy, literature and the arts, natural and social sciences, social movements and culture, pedagogy and pastoral life. Awards may be used either to support award recipients directly, or for expenses such as research-related travel, data work/collection, and supplies. These awards by and large are meant to support the writing of doctoral dissertations, but a percentage of MFA work may be funded as well. Awards may not be used to pay tuition or academic fees. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Students must be enrolled in a U.S. graduate school doctoral or MFA program for the fellowship year.
  • All pre-dissertation requirements (or equivalent, for MFA) and general examinations must be completed before the start of the fellowship year.
  • Applicants must be working on issues that focus prominently on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

The applicant must complete an online application, which includes the following components:

  • Current curriculum vitae
  • A letter of interest that outlines the ways the applicant's work approaches and relates to the Catholic intellectual tradition (no more than 1500 words)
  • Dissertation or MFA prospectus (no more than 3500 words)
  • Graduate transcripts from current institution

Additionally, as part of the application process, applicants will be prompted to request three letters:

  • Two confidential letters of recommendation, including one from the applicant’s dissertation advisor (or equivalent)
  • A progress toward degree report signed by the director of graduate studies or an academic dean from the student’s graduate institution

NOTE: since we are hoping to begin the review process immediately after the deadline (March 15, 2024), applicants are highly encouraged to create a submissions account and submit requests for letters of recommendation as soon as possible. Applicants can request letters of recommendation before submitting other application materials.  

In addition to the final report (submitted by September 1, 2024), Fellows will complete a report one year after their Fellowship, and be asked to share completed dissertations or MFA projects upon their completion in order to build-out the Hank Fellowship/ Catholic Intellectual Tradition Archive.

Check back later for access to our submissions platform. 

Please direct any questions to Associate Director of the Hank Center, Joe Vukov, at jvukov@luc.edu.


Summer 2023 Fellows

Sanjay Adhikari is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies in the University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX. He received his B.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Thomas Aquinas College and an M.A. in Philosophy from the Center for Thomistic Studies. Mr. Adhikari is currently writing his dissertation titled “On the Relation between Immateriality and Intellectual Knowledge,” focusing primarily on the Thomistic and Aristotelian philosophical traditions. His dissertation studies and intends to elucidate St. Thomas Aquinas’s principle underlying the Thomistic account of knowledge: “Immateriality is the ratio that something is a knower and according to the mode of immateriality is the mode of knowing.” In the dissertation, Mr. Adhikari examines why the human soul has a subsistent immaterial being given its intellectual operation and defends this Thomistic doctrine against prominent objections in the literature. He then considers why every intelligent being – and not only the human soul – is immaterial, according to Thomistic principles that matter contracts forms and hinders intellectual operation. Lastly, he studies why every subsistent immaterial being is also intelligent, in light of St. Thomas Aquinas’s principles that every subsistent being has an operation proportionate to its being and form as such is the principle of understanding a thing.
Grant Gasse is a Ph.D. candidate in the Theology Department at the University of Notre Dame, where he also received his M.T.S after studying Liberal Arts at Thomas Aquinas College. Grant’s work concerns early Christian theology in general and the long second century in particular. His dissertation, titled "Myth as False Word: Irenaeus of Lyons and the Theology of Speech," argues that, for the “Doctor of Unity,” the incarnation of the Word funds a capacious, symphonic conception of ecclesial discourse, while necessitating a correlative, incarnational conception of language itself. In so doing, the project offers a new framework for understanding Irenaeus’ critical reflections on theological method, one which underscores the shared commitments of Irenaeus and his opponents, otherwise obscured by the harsh rhetoric of ancient heresiology.
  Megan Gooley is a PhD candidate in theological and social ethics at Fordham University. She holds a B.A. in physics from the University of St. Thomas and an M.T.S. in moral theology from the University of Notre Dame. Her dissertation, entitled “Integral Human Development: Vocation and Vision of Human Flourishing in the Catholic Social Tradition and International Development Praxis” explores the underlying substantive visions of the human person and human flourishing in international development paradigms, including CST’s integral human development. This project examines the developing theology of integral human development and the praxis of CST through an exploration of the mission and work of Catholic Relief Services since its foundation in 1943. Her research interests also include fundamental moral theology, economic ethics, global bioethics, and peace studies. 
  Megan Heeder is a Ph.D. candidate in Theology in the area of Systematics/Ethics at Marquette University. Heeder earned her Masters in Theological Studies from Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry after completing a Masters of Arts in Theology through Notre Dame’s Echo (Faith Formation Leadership) Program. She graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies with minors in Theology and Education, Schooling, and Society. Considering the proliferation of social media and internet use in the lives of young people over the last two decades, Heeder’s doctoral research asks what the Catholic Intellectual Tradition can contribute to a moral theological response to eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. Engaging Hans urs Von Balthsar’s work on kenosis and Christ on the cross as the standard of beauty alongside Shelly Rambo’s exploration of his Holy Saturday theology as a lens for understanding experiences of trauma, she offers the Balthasarian vision of Christ’s love poured out on the cross and descent into Hell as a way to understand true beauty and accompaniment through the traumatic, isolating experiences of eating disorders. After establishing a Christological understanding of beauty, Heeder argues that Thomistic virtue ethics offers a moral theological response for those grappling with how to understand their own goodness in light of the body dissatisfaction that surrounds them, or the eating disorder they are experiencing. Her most recent article, “Aquinas’s Unity Thesis and Grace: Ingredients for Developing a Good Appetite in a Contemporary Age” was published in the Journal of Moral Theology and considers the role that Aquinas’s unity thesis can play in aiding those struggling with eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. 
  Austin Foley Holmes is a Ph.D. candidate in Historical Theology / History of Christianity at Boston College. He received a B.A. in History and Philosophy from the University of Toledo (2016), and an M.T.S. from Boston College (2019). His major research areas are Early Christianity and Medieval Christianity. Austin's dissertation, entitled “Justice and Political Theology in Origen of Alexandria,” is a study of the idea of justice (dikaiosunê) and related political themes in the treatises, biblical commentaries, and homilies of Origen of Alexandria. It argues that for Origen justice refers primarily to the activity of governance or rule which aims at the goal of ‘good order’ (eunomia) or ‘unity’ (henotēs). Justice is, to that extent, a description of the virtuous exercise of power, whether divine or human. A representative example is Origen’s claim that ‘Justice is Christ’ insofar as Christ rules and governs the soul in order to establish its unity. At the 2023 meeting of the AAR, Austin will present his research on the critical reception of Origen’s theology in the polemical writings of the fourth-century bishop Marcellus of Ancyra. In addition to Origen and Origen’s reception, he is especially interested in the polemical interpretation of scripture in the theological debates of the 3rd through 5th centuries. 
  Andrew Krema is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy and German from The Catholic University of America and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Cologne (Germany). His research in philosophy is centered on the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl. His dissertation, titled "Evaluation. A Husserlian Account," concerns Husserl’s account of evaluative reason or the heart. The Hank Fellowship will support his work on his dissertation and a journal article on Husserl’s account of ‘rational religious faith’. For Husserl, religious faith is ‘authentic’ and ‘rational’ when it emerges from rational processes of the heart, and avoids the extremes of faith as an assent to a set of rules or a sort of feeling or sentiment. Krema contends that Husserl’s account of religious faith anticipates later Catholic theologians’ views on the rationality of faith such as Guardini, Giussani, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. 
  Augustina Mbata is a religious sister of the Congregation of Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd (SJGS) Nigeria; and a doctoral student in Curriculum, Culture, and Community (3Cs) at the School of Education Loyola University Chicago. She received two Masters degrees from Boston College: an MA in Theology and Ministry in the School of Theology and Ministry and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy at Lynch School of Education. Augustina’s dissertation which focuses on the Tensions between Catholic Identity and Academic Achievement, approaches her interest in renewing Catholic identity in Nigerian Catholic schools. Catholic schools are places of faith and academic excellence. Within the context of a secular and competitive world, Catholic schools are likely to emphasize academics rather than spiritual capital and moral goals. However, the trends of the 21st century are not enough to oust the beauty of which we are as Catholics, stipulated in the Apostolic tradition of the Catholic Faith. Making faith the catalyst for inquiry, the dissertation seeks to open the mind of the students to conversations about their faith, buttressing that the knowledge of academics “alone” is not enough for Catholic students, but the synergy of faith and academics (fides querens intellectum), sheds light on the realities of life. Students would begin to question critical issues about their life and appreciate how their learning in the Catholic school shapes their life as Christians and their world. 
  Isabelle Ostertag is a doctoral candidate researching English medieval architecture under Dr. Lisa Reilly at the University of Virginia. She received a Master of Philosophy in History of Art and Architecture from the University of Cambridge where she studied under the supervision of Dr. Paul Binski. Her dissertation provided the first complete description of the sculptural program in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral. She received her BA in Art History and German from Williams College.The support of the Hank Fellowship will enable Isabelle to conduct key research and writing for her PhD dissertation through direct support and research-related travel. Her dissertation, "Porta Caeli: Lay Piety and Marian Devotion in the Parochial Lady Chapels of East Anglia,” analyzes lay Marian devotion in medieval England through an examination of parochial chapels dedicated to the Virgin Mary in East Anglia. This region serves as the ideal case study due to the number of surviving sites and related material culture. The surviving architecture and material culture of medieval, parochial Lady Chapels in England provides concrete evidence for the growth and involvement of the laity in Marian devotional practices. Restoring an understanding of medieval lay agency in devotional practices towards the Virgin Mary will in turn illuminate the Catholic understanding of human experience based upon a dialogue between faith and culture. The universal nature of Marian devotion provides rich material for examination of such a dialogue. Unlike Books of Hours and other elite forms of Marian material culture, parochial Lady Chapels were the site of communal Marian devotion for all parishioners. Examining these sites through the lens of the Catholic intellectual tradition engages with the search for the truth behind such devotional practices. 
Jacob Saliba is a PhD candidate in the department of history at Boston College specializing in modern European intellectual history. He holds an MA in political science from Boston College as well as a BA in Economics and Political Science from Ohio Dominican University. His dissertation, “The Discovery of the Sacred in Interwar France: From Contestation to Cooperation, 1919-1941,” explains how and why lively social bonds and mutual intellectual projects emerged between Catholic, Jewish, and secular intellectuals in interwar France. In particular, his dissertation focuses on the Catholic dimensions of this story by showing that Catholic thinkers—through interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural exchange—helped to facilitate vibrant philosophical and political changes during this time period. Drawing on rich archival evidence together with published texts, Jacob’s project aims to show that a renewed practice and thinking of Catholicism took root in interwar France and provided instrumental resources for creating a democratic ethos against wider threats of fascism, racism, and extremism. With generous support from the Hank Center for the summer 2023, he will be returning to France to continue analyzing files of correspondence, journals, and unpublished manuscripts held at the Institut mémoires de l'édition contemporaine in Caen, the Archives françaises de la compagnie de Jésus in Paris, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.
Sarah Simms is a PhD student and Teaching Fellow at DePaul University. She earned a BA in Religious Studies at Beloit College before shifting disciplines to pursue her MA and PhD in Philosophy at DePaul. Her current research explores the work of feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray, examining both her critical interpretation of the desire for otherworldly transcendence as founded upon a sacrificial order that pervades Western thought, and her attempt to reconcile transcendence with immanence, such that it might fuel our endeavors to honor the irreducibility of sexual difference and engage in our own subjective becoming. Sarah ultimately critiques this rehabilitation of transcendence on the grounds that it fails to fully grapple with the reality of human mortality. She then turns to medieval theological sources who share Irigaray’s commitment to incarnate transcendence yet bring this commitment into harmony with the human yearning for the otherworldly. Pivotal to Sarah’s work are John Duns Scotus’ radical affirmation of the Incarnation in his arguments for the “absolute primacy of Christ,” Bonaventure’s account of the “spiritual senses,” and Julian of Norwich’s understanding of God’s love as radical plenitude.
  John D. Steichen is a Ph.D. candidate in Systematic Theology at Boston College. He grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and received both his B.A. (2015) and M.A. (2017) in Philosophy from Boston College. Before beginning his doctoral studies, he worked as a high school teacher in the Theology department at Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, MA. Broadly, he studies philosophical theology, with a special interest in mimetic theory and transcendental Thomism. He dissertation, “Looking for Salvation in a Secular Age: Fundamental Theology and the Absence of God,” engages the work of Bernard Lonergan, René Girard, and Charles Taylor. Its aim is to contribute to the development of a method in fundamental theology that is historically minded, rooted in an analysis of human consciousness, and capable of effectively identifying and raising the question of God in the context of western, secular culture. 
  Deanna Witkowski is a PhD candidate in jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh. A professional jazz pianist, liturgical music composer, and Mary Lou Williams scholar, Witkowski is the author of the ASCAP and Jazz Journalists Association award-winning biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul (Liturgical Press, 2021). Her dissertation, “Jazz in the Pews: ‘Experiments in Sunday Worship’ in the 1960s,” occupies the edges between scholarship on Vatican II liturgical reforms; the civil rights and Black Power movements; the Black Catholic liturgical movement; and congregational music studies. The project examines the history of the four-year jazz ministry at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Harlem from 1967-71 in which pianists Eddie Bonnemère and Mary Lou Williams composed jazz Masses for the community. Reflecting the ecumenism of the post-Vatican II era, this initiative was concurrent with the beginnings of the longstanding jazz ministry at at Saint Peters Church (Lutheran) in midtown New York in 1965. “Jazz in the Pews" argues that the process of creating new liturgical music within the context of larger ecosystems ultimately generated outcomes more important than the pieces themselves: enlivened, singing communities. The Hank Center Fellowship will fund Witkowski’s research travel to conduct interviews with musicians and liturgists who worked with Eddie Bonnemère both in Washington, D.C., where she will attend the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC), and in New York City. 
  Originally from West Long Branch, New Jersey, Eric Zito is a doctoral candidate in the New Testament and Early Christianity program at Loyola University Chicago. He holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Theology from Providence College, along with a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. His dissertation analyzes the unnamed, but influential disciple “whom Jesus loved” in the Fourth Gospel from the standpoint of biblical performance criticism—an interpretive approach that considers how early Christian texts operated in the live-performance settings in which they lived. This project continues the interpretive enterprise of shedding modern assumptions and recovering ancient insights for the modern world. Combing through contemporary literature and examining the performative/rhetorical techniques taught in the first century, Eric hopes to illuminate some of the ways in which live performances speak differently than words on a page. 

Summer 2022 Fellows

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sydney Curtis (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago (LUC). Her scholarship explores the relationship between spirituality, Black feminism, and critical pedagogy with publications in the Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs and Dialogues in Social Justice. Sydney’s dissertation, titled “Pandemic Pedagogies: Fatalistic or Black Feminist,” seeks to explore the pedagogical and spiritual strategies of Black feminist educators as we continue to navigate teaching and learning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Hank Fellowship for Research in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition will support this work by providing compensation for participants' intellectual labor, conference funding for potential submissions to pedagogical assemblies in the U.K., and resources for Sydney and her co-researchers/participants to fund a potential action initiative which may arise from their convenings to support healing and wellbeing from a Black feminist lens. 
James Dechant is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at Fordham University. He holds a B.A. in English and Theology from the University of Notre Dame, an M.S. in Education from Hunter College, and an M.T.S. from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. His dissertation, entitled “An Ecological Education: Theological Paths to Liberative Praxis,” explores the role of theological pedagogy in responding to the social-ecological crisis. The project draws on critical pedagogy, hermeneutics, Trinitarian theology, and asceticism in order to imagine how theological education can link individual ecological conversion to broader societal transformation. James’s aim in this work is to chart paths toward a future in which the Catholic tradition does justice to creation and in which theological educators are capable, in the words of Pope Francis, of “helping people, through effective pedagogy, to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care.” 
  Hansol Goo is a PhD candidate in Theology in the area of Liturgical Studies at University of Notre Dame. Hansol holds a Licentiate degree in History and Cultural Heritage of the Church from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. Her Licentiate thesis, “Benedetto XVI e l’Arte Sacra: Sofferenza e Conversione per Vedere la Verità” is published in Italian, in Pope Art: tra Religione, Estetica, e Spiritualità (G&B Press, 2022). Taking the contemporary issue of migration as a context and a source for theology, Hansol’s doctoral research asks, “How can the experience of migration and displacement deepen our understanding of sacramental participation in the Eucharist and, in turn, help us understand immigrants from a sacramental point of view?” In particular, her research examines the role of memory in preserving, forming, and renewing the sense of self for Korean Catholics in the US diaspora in correlation to the Trinitarian dynamics of anamnesis-epiclesis in the celebration of the Eucharist. Hansol argues that, through the act of remembrance, the believing immigrant is rendered as a liturgical being who is no longer cast away in exile but who stands in the presence of the Lord. 
Joshua Alan Hoxmeier is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). He received a B.A. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His dissertation, "Before Revolution and Counter-Revolution: How the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska's Interpretation of Vatican II Explains It's Growth Amid the General Decline of American Catholicism Since the Mid-Twentieth Century," explores how the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska bucked national trends of decline in the American Catholic Church. Although labeled as a "conservative and anti-Vatican II" diocese, Lincoln's Catholics in fact saw themselves as its true defenders. The vocational and educational success of this interpretation of Vatican II is one example of a larger trend in Great Plains Catholicism and demonstrates the need for a more nuanced understanding of Vatican II that goes beyond a simple "conservative/progressive paradigm.”
  R. Zachary Karanovich is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Systematic Theology at Boston College. He received a B.A. in Theology and Philosophy from Marian College (2007), a J.D. from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (2014), and an M.T.S. from B.C.’s School of Theology and Ministry (2018). Prior to graduate theological studies, Zac practiced law and worked in religious education and parish ministry. His dissertation, “Conversion in a World of Violence: Toward a Theology of Conversion with Johann Baptist Metz, James Alison, and Thomas Merton,” engages the three title interlocutors’ complimentary contributions toward the development of a holistic understanding of conversion that includes justice, forgiveness, and divinization—constitutive elements of political, communal, and individual conversion. In light of their own lives and theological thought, and conscious of the fundamental and indispensable role of grace in conversion, he draws from them spiritual and ecclesial praxes that can open a person and a community to conversion. Of particular interest in the dissertation is the role of narrative and narrative change in conversion. The project concludes with a case study, applying the principles established in earlier chapters to the issue of racial resentment in our particularly polarized society. 
  Rich Lizardo is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania who focuses on the history of early-modern Spain. He received his B.A. at Yale University (2015) and his M.A. at Penn (2018), both in History. His research interests include the study of poverty, charity, and poor laws; theories and practices of punishment; Spanish empire and colonialism; national, cultural, religious, and ethnic identities; and intellectual, religious, and cultural history. In his dissertation, “Worlds of Spanish Poverty: Theory and Practice from the Reformation to the Enlightenment,” Rich traces the developments in the ideas and institutions that arose to address the problem of widespread poverty in early-modern Spain. Among those developments are the Scholastic treatises on poverty, the Tridentine reforms of charitable institutions, and the Baroque art and picaresque literature depicting paupers. His dissertation thus engages with fundamental questions of Catholic theology, with major elements of Baroque Catholicism, and ultimately with institutional practices that previewed later developments in Catholic social teaching.
Joseph McCrave is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theology at Boston College. He is from the United Kingdom and received a BA in Philosophy and Theology and MPhil in Theology from the University of Oxford. He works in the area of theological ethics, focusing on questions of political theology, virtue, and cross-cultural dialogue. His dissertation explores the personal and political dimensions of forgiveness in contemporary social contexts. This work offers a Thomistic account of forgiveness as a specific virtue, linked to mercy, and ultimately motivated by charity. The project contextualizes forgiveness, as a mode of love, as complementary to repentance and reparations, as modes of justice. It considers ways in which this relationship may be exemplified by communal practices of restorative justice such as ecclesial rituals, circle processes, and truth commissions.
  Colin McGuigan (M.T.S., Duke University) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton. McGuigan’s dissertation, tentatively titled “The Paschal Event of Wonder,” treats wonder’s ambiguities: its importance for responding to the environmental crisis and also its tendencies towards dominance, possessiveness, antirational thinking, self-deception, and susceptibility to manipulation by charismatic leaders. The Catholic intellectual tradition is not innocent of the moral, social, and ecological abuses of wonder, but it also provides resources to navigate the impasse of wonder’s promise and peril. To that end, McGuigan draws on Pope Francis/Jorge Bergoglio’s concept of wonder, and the sources of wonder in his intellectual biography, to synthesize a paschal notion of wonder, one that mobilizes the passion’s life-reverencing potential while guarding against exploitative, violent, and demagogic possibilities. 
  Sónia Monteiro is a doctoral candidate in systematic theology and a Senior Teaching Fellow for the 2022-23 academic year at Fordham University. She completed her Master of Arts in Theology at Fordham University (2018). While in Portugal, Sónia completed her law degree (2007) and worked as lawyer for several years.Sónia's dissertation project, written under the direction of Dr. Bradford Hinze, is entitled “Forgiveness: The Human-Divine Ladder in the Abyss of Sin. A Philosophical, Theological, and Political Investigation.” Her dissertation explores, both from a hermeneutical and phenomenological perspectives, the human-divine dynamism in the event of interpersonal forgiveness before radical evil, while considering, at the same time, its implications in the public sphere. Sónia’s investigation of the phenomenon of forgiveness presupposes a critical dialogue between French Continental Philosophy the Catholic theologian, Edward Schillebeeckx.
Laurel Marshall Potter is a doctoral candidate in systematic and comparative theology at Boston College and an instructor at the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (UCA) in San Salvador. She holds a B.A. in Theology and Spanish from Saint Louis University and a Master’s in Latin American Theology from the UCA. Broadly, she studies the intersections among different Latin American theologies, liberation theologies, Catholic theologies, and decolonial studies. Under the direction of Carlos Mendoza Álvarez, Laurel’s dissertation is titled “Que esta misa nos haga soñar: Liturgical Inter-culturation and the Mesoamerican Reception of Sacrosanctum Concilium.” Together with ecclesial base communities and other marginal ecclesial communities in resistance in El Salvador, Laurel’s qualitative research explores their non-normative liturgical practices, asking whether and how these celebrations function as “source and summit” of the communities’ Christian life and discipleship.
  Héctor E. Ramos is a PhD student and instructor at Chicago’s DePaul University. He has a BA in philosophy from Macalester College, an MSc degree from the LSE (Political Theory), and an MA degree in Continental Philosophy (University of Warwick). While a student at DePaul, he also undertook a yearlong exchange program at the École normale supérieure in Paris.He is interested in the history of philosophy and contemporary European philosophy, philosophy of religion, and comparative philosophy and theology, particularly as pertains dialogue between Christian and Buddhist thought.His PhD dissertation attempts to bridge the gap between phenomenology and the French Spiritualist tradition, as well as science, theology, metaphysics, and mysticism.
Daniel J. Rietze is a PhD Candidate in Italian Studies at Brown University, where he is also completing an MA in Religious Studies. His dissertation, "Catholic Ecology: Reinhabiting Italian Landscapes, 1918-1965," presents an environmental dimension to Catholics' emergence as citizens of modern Europe in the decades preceding Vatican II. For a cluster of Italian Catholic intellectuals including the Christian Democrat Luigi Sturzo (1871-1959) and the liberation theologians Primo Mazzolari (1890-1959) and Zeno Saltini (1900-81), increased participation in Italy's sociopolitical life went hand-in-hand with the renewal of cosmologies that valorized the material earth and emphasized humans' connectedness with their environment: it was a bold vision in an era otherwise marked by the ecological harm done by two world wars, rapid industrialization, and fascism. More broadly, Daniel's research interests include theology and literature; dissent, renewal, and reform in the collective life of the Church; popular religion; and mysticism, especially the World War II-era Tuscan mystic Maria Valtorta (1897-1961) and her Gospel as Revealed to Me. In addition to receiving an MA in Italian Studies from Brown (2019), Daniel holds a BA in English and Italian from Yale University (2016) and is a parishioner at St. Sebastian's Catholic Church in Providence, RI, where he has taught fifth-grade CCD.
Marie Schrampfer is a PhD candidate in systematic theology at Southern Methodist University. She holds an MA in constructive theology from Saint Louis University and a BA in Christian history and theology from Hope College. In her dissertation, she brings two medieval Catholic mystics, Gertrude of Helfta and Johannes Tauler, into the theological conversation surrounding Christian salvation construed as deification. Marie draws from their writings to provide a constructive account of the centrality of the Eucharist in the deification process. She explores how sin fragments and scatters the human person, separating her from God, from others, and even from her own self. Only deifying union with God is sufficient to heal these deep divisions and reunite the fractured self, for sharing in the divine life draws the human person into a unity which is both an image of and a participation in the unity of the Triune God. Marie argues that the sacrament of the Eucharist lies at the heart of this healing, unifying, and deifying process, and her dissertation articulates precisely how and why this is the case.
Emily L. Sharrett is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at Loyola University Chicago, the Editorial and Program Assistant at the Midwest Modern Language Association, and a 2022-2023 P.E.O. Scholar. She received her Master of Arts in English from Loyola University Chicago after her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Political Science from Miami University of Ohio. Titled Eternal City, Earthly City: The Reach of Rome in Early Modern English Literature, Sharrett’s dissertation takes aim at Shakespeare’s so-called “Roman texts,” both drama and narrative poetry, to demonstrate that St. Augustine’s and Aristotle’s figure of the “political animal” exceeds the human. She argues that early modern texts depict human agency in ancient Mediterranean sea- and land-scapes alongside, and often less favorably than, the forces exerted by other creatures, inert matter, or technologies. In doing so, Eternal City, Earthly City adds to literary and theological studies an account of the nonhuman agents that, like humans, hold political and ethical import in Shakespeare’s texts and in the world. Sharrett’s dissertation joins the research culture at Loyola University Chicago that prioritizes the ecologically-attuned objectives of Pope Francis’s 7-Year Journey Towards Integral Ecology by evaluating how the social ecology of past and present answers the cries of the earth and the poor.

Summer 2021 Fellows

Ricardo Alvarez Pimentel is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern Latin American History who is in his sixth year of study at Yale University. He received a B.A. in History from the University of Chicago (2012) and an M.A. from Yale (2017) in the same field. Ricardo’s dissertation, “From Secret War to Cold War: Anti-Revolutionary Catholicism and the (Un)Makings of Counterrevolutionary Mexico, 1910-1946”, traces the political and intellectual trajectory of young Catholic women in Mexico’s middle and upper classes during the Mexican Revolution and Mexico’s nascent Cold War (roughly, between 1910 and 1946). His dissertation outlines how Catholic women’s activism transitioned from “secret war” to Cold War by documenting crucial transformations in católicas’ political ideologies, their perceptions of Catholicism, and their ambitious—yet ultimately flawed—projects of moral uplift, spiritual regeneration, and national religious restoration.
Emily Davis is a PhD Candidate in Public History/American History at Loyola University of Chicago. She received her MA in Public History from Duquesne University after attending Saint Vincent College as an undergraduate history and theology student. Emily’s dissertation “Enshrining Memory” combines her interest in American Catholicism with public history. Museums and historic sites teach visitors about a shared past and allow visitors to grapple with their experiences of that past. For Catholics, the rise of American saints in the twentieth century produced new shrine complexes that included a museum. This research examines how American Catholics understand their national and local identity through their interpretation of saints at shrines. Visitor interaction with these sites shape the shrines’ histories as well, demonstrating the fluid nature of Catholic memory.
Kristin M. Hass is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Haas completed a Master of Theological Studies at Boston College and a Master of Arts in Theology through the Echo: Faith Formation Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame. She received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude through Notre Dame’s Glynn Family Honors Program in the Program of Liberal Studies and International Peace Studies. Her research investigates the significance of the natural world in the Catholic theological tradition and in philosophical modernity, with particular attention to contemporary debates in ecological theology, eschatology, and Trinitarian theology. Haas’s dissertation, “The Ecological Significance of Louis Bouyer’s Historical and Eschatological Theology,” makes a Catholic intervention in these debates through a retrieval of the work of the French theologian Louis Bouyer of the Oratory (1913-2004).
Simeiqi He is a Catholic laywoman from China. She is a doctoral candidate at Drew University Theological School. She has earned a Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry from Brite Divinity School, a Master of Social Work and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Texas Christian University, and a Bachelor of Science in Material Physics from Sichuan University. He's dissertation is titled, “The Song of Songs, The Affect of Love, And Spiritual-Moral Formation of Marriage: A Post-Critical Catholic Moral Theology of Marriage in the Spirit of Carmel.” By drawing from the rich Carmelite spiritual tradition and engaging a transdisciplinary conversation with recent scholarship in moral theology, phenomenology, biblical studies, and affect studies, He presents her knowledge that the affect of love conceived in the Song of Songs and its Carmelite reception is the passage of marital spiritual-moral formation toward union with God and for the transformation of the world.
Christopher Krall, S.J. is a Jesuit Priest and doctoral student in systematic theology and neuroscience at Marquette University. He has prior degrees from Oxford University, Boston College, and the University of Toronto. He is currently a co-principle investigator on a grant-sponsored project called the Marquette Irenaeus Project exploring the psychological and neurological effects of Christian contemplative prayer traditions. Along with his colleagues, Chris is now working toward applying for a Templeton Grant where they can expand their project in a number of key dimensions. These dimensions include facilitating more participants, using more advanced technology, creating an app to interact with and collect data from the participants, and collaboration with experts in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, biomedical engineering, historical theology, and systematic theology. 
Jason Paone is a fifth-year doctoral student of historical and systematic theology and a graduate fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America. He holds a Master of Theological Studies from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts in the Classics and Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. Under the direction of Reinhard Huetter, his doctoral research examines the role of the will in the act of faith in the teaching of the Vatican councils. His research examines the voluntary character of the act of faith as asserted by the Vatican councils (and the virtually unanimous voice of the tradition) in light of the work of recent philosophers of epistemology who have argued that the idea of voluntary belief is conceptually or logically absurd. Jason is exploring the work of a lesser-known German theologian from the 19th century named Matthias Joseph Scheeben and arguing that his construal of faith escapes this "problem of doxastic voluntarism," as identified by contemporary philosophers, without compromising the voluntariness of faith.
Deepan Rajaratnam is currently a PhD Candidate at Saint Louis University where he was selected as the 2019-2020 Religion & Public Life Fellow for the Lived Religion in the Digital Age project. Previously, he studied at Boston College where he earned a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.). A scholar of constructive theology, Rajaratnam studies the intersection of ecclesiology and pneumatology with a particular interest in the laity. Specifically, he researches the sensus fidelium, or sense of the faithful, in relation to local church. This interest and Rajaratnam's approach to scholarship have been shaped through the numerous insights he gained through his breadth of professional ministry experience at the parish, university, and diocesan levels. Consequently, Rajaratnam employs ethnographic fieldwork to engage the broader faithful in his research and consider Catholicism as it is lived in his study of the sensus fidelium. Such an approach also enables Rajaratnam to emphasize public scholarship and to address multiple publics - ecclesial, academic, and lay.
Samantha Slaubaugh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Her area of concentration is Liturgical Studies. She received her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and her B.A. in Theology and English from the University of Sioux Falls. She is interested broadly in medieval liturgy, sacramental theology, mysticism, and hagiography.Samantha's dissertation centers around the fourteenth-century hagiography for Douceline of Digne. This text recounts not only the holiness of Douceline, including her frequent ecstatic raptures, but also the founding and growth of the beguine communities in Provence, the Ladies of Roubaud. By utilizing this text in conjunction with contemporary devotional and liturgical materials, Samantha's work seeks to better understand the liturgical leadership and practices within these beguine communities, the relationship between liturgy and ecstasy in the text, and the description of orthopraxy as a literary tool for legitimization during times of suspicion and potential threat. 
Jane Sloan Peters holds a B.A., M.Ed., and M.A. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and an M.T.S. from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. She is writing her dissertation under the direction of Marcus Plested at Marquette University. Jane’s dissertation focuses on Thomas Aquinas's reception of Greek patristic and Byzantine exegesis in the Expositio Continua in Quator Evangelia, popularly known as the Catena aurea, which Pope Urban IV commissioned in 1262/3. She situates the Catena aurea in its historical context and demonstrate concretely Weisheipl’s claim that the project marked "a turning point" in Thomistic theology, particularly as Byzantine sources enriched Aquinas's interpretation of the literal sense of Scripture. Jane focuses especially on three of the most frequently cited Greeks therein: John Chrysostom, Theophylact of Ochrid, and Cyril of Alexandria, and their redeployment in the Lectura Super Ioannem and the Tertia Pars. Given the far-reaching influence of this little-studied work, Jane hopes to shed light on a key text of the Catholic intellectual tradition.
Corey Stephan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds a Master of Theological Studies from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude with majors in Theology and Classical Languages and a minor in Spanish from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Corey Stephan's project, Maximus the Confessor in Aquinas's Christology, is a historical theology -- that is, a journey through one strand of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The dissertation's core is the narrative of the transmission of Maximus’s thought to Aquinas and an analysis of Aquinas's reception of that thought. Stephan frames the project by defining Maximianism as fundamentally about proper devotion to Christ.