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.

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. Several awards of $5,000 are available annually and may be used 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 will 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 writing on issues that focus prominently on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

The applicant must complete an online application including 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)

The following forms should be emailed (not from the applicant) to hankcenter@luc.edu:

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

Applications and supplemental materials are due in March. Applications are reviewed by committee, and applicants are notified of decisions in May.

Upon completion of the funding year, Fellows are required to write a short report disclosing how the award was utilized. In addition, Fellows will share completed dissertations or MFA projects upon their completion in order to build-out the Hank Fellowship/ Catholic Intellectual Tradition Archive.

Summer 2021 Fellows

Ricardo Alvarez Pimental 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. A native of Mexico City, Ricardo’s academic interests include the history of revolutions and upheavals, international relations, nationalism, religion, and race relations as they pertain to Latin America and the Caribbean region. Currently, Ricardo is completing his dissertation, “From Secret War to Cold War: Anti-Revolutionary Catholicism and the (Un)Makings of Counterrevolutionary Mexico, 1917-1949,” which he expects to complete in the spring of 2022.
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). Through rigorous analyses of the magazines, journals, newspapers, propaganda, and other publications printed by Catholic women’s groups, his work examines the political and religious ideologies forged by the affluent católicas (Catholic women) of Mexico’s Young Catholic Women’s Association (JCFM) as both a pivotal arm of the budding Mexican Catholic Action organization and as integral members of the nation’s counterrevolutionary opposition to the nascent Revolutionary state. Adopting a transnational approach, Ricardo’s project traces how Mexican católicas worked with Catholic activists in Spain and the United States to forge global networks of support for their fight against the Mexican government’s anti-clerical laws and push for secular education. Subsequently, 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.
In terms of historiography, Ricardo’s dissertation seeks to blur the lines between secular politics and religious subjectivity. Specifically, his work challenges U.S. and Mexican historians who readily categorize young católicas’ counterrevolutionary activism as apolitical and subsequently relegate Catholic women’s intellectual project to the confines of strictly “social” and “religious” pursuits. Instead, his work demonstrates how “politics,” “religion,” and Catholic “social” action were interconnected and inseparable spheres of women’s activism and intellectual development. Moreover, through its emphasis on gender, his dissertation openly challenges a historiography that prioritizes male-written ecclesiastical sources and reduces its analyses of Catholic political engagement to the male-dominated arenas of Mexican electoral politics, military conflict, and Church reform. Furthermore, Ricardo’s exploration of crucial intersections between class, race (i.e., whiteness), and religious subjectivity is unprecedented in the field of modern Mexican history and establishes pivotal connections between religious conservatism in Mexico and the racially-charged projects of Catholic counterparts in early-twentieth-century Brazil, Cuba, Peru, and Argentina, among others.
Once COVID-19 international travel restrictions are lifted, Ricardo plans on using Hank Center funding to travel to the Vatican Apostolic Archive in Rome and the Spanish Catholic Action Archive in Madrid over the summer and fall terms. However, if international travel restrictions remain in place, then he will prioritize research in U.S. archives and travel to the manuscript and special collections at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., as well as the archival collections at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Chapters 5 and 6 of his dissertation will benefit the most from additional research trips over the summer and fall of 2021 to strengthen the U.S. and European dimensions of his work.
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. As a public historian, Emily worked at museums and archives around the country. She begins as an Assistant Professor of History at Belmont Abbey College in fall 2021.
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. Sites related to Saint Elizabeth Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neuman, Blessed Solanus Casey, and Venerable Fulton Sheen are included in the research.
Kristin M. Hass is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at the University of Notre Dame. 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).
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. She is originally from Davenport, Iowa.
Haas’ dissertation interprets the liturgical, biblical, and historical-theological synthesis of the immensely learned French Oratorian priest Louis Bouyer (1913-2004) and argues that Bouyer’s synthesis provides a superior foundation for ecological theology compared with the most influential approaches. The Hank Fellowship supports this dissertation research, in particular the second part, which sets the theological synthesis of Louis Bouyer in critical conversation with the approaches of Jürgen Moltmann and Catherine Keller.
The first part this project analyzes and recommends Bouyer’s theological approach as such. Bouyer was a deeply informed interpreter of the Catholic intellectual tradition vis-à-vis religious studies, philosophy, and literature. Raised in a Protestant family in France, he became a Lutheran minister before converting to Catholicism, and he eventually received ordination to the Catholic priesthood. Still known in certain circles for his impact on the Second Vatican Council and for his writings on biblical and liturgical theology, Bouyer continued to teach and write for decades, authoring some fifty books. Yet Bouyer has largely been forgotten in the academic literature. Haas’ research focuses especially on Bouyer’s nine-volume theological synthesis, which he produced later in life as trilogies on the economy of salvation (Mary, the Church, and the cosmos), theology proper (the Son, the Father, and the Spirit), and knowledge of God (mysteriongnosis, and sophia).
The second part of her dissertation, on which she will focus during the 2021-2022 academic year, will argue that Bouyer’s approach provides for an ecological theology that is superior to the more prominent approaches of Jürgen Moltmann and Catherine Keller. Bouyer himself does not draw a connection to ecological questions. Rather, Hass’ contribution includes drawing out a critique of Moltmann and Keller from within Bouyer’s approach. Both Moltmann and Keller preemptively distance theology of the natural world from biblical revelation and from Jewish and Christian liturgical life. Yet,  Haas argues, Bouyer’s reading of the liturgical, biblical, and historical tradition enables both a more comprehensive diagnosis of the ecological crisis and a more theologically comprehensive and ecologically compelling vision.
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.
Simeiqi He is working on her dissertation 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. His research interests include the intersection of the theology of Bernard Lonergan and neuroscience with an emphasis on virtue formation, prayer, and conversion. 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. He has prior degrees from Oxford University, Boston College, and the University of Toronto.
There are three areas where this award will help Chris advance his research of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition:
After the death of his dissertation director, Fr. Robert M. Doran, S.J., who held the Emmet Doerr Chair of Systematic Theology and lead the Lonergan Project at Marquette University, Chris was forced to switch his director to Fr. Gerard Whelan, S.J. who is a full professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. While Chris can generally work with Fr. Whelan via email and modern forms of communication (Zoom & TEAMS), he does intend to travel to Rome in January when travel restrictions are lifted so as to engage in research in archives in Rome, writing, and conversations with Fr. Whelan so to complete his dissertation. The award will assist with travel expenses and help defray the costs associated with the research in the eternal city.
Second, while the Marquette Irenaeus Project is grant funded, it is seed-money with the expectation that it will help jump-start the project for larger grants. 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. The work required to build the research team and develop the application is taking time, will require travel to meet with potential team-members, and does involve the acquisition of research supplies and neurological equipment for the advancement of the research. This award will be a great benefit for the advancement of this work and research deeply embedded in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.
Finally, to best invest his time in this research into the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, Chris will likely use the funds to reduce his teaching course load for the fall semester so that he can focus on the travel, research, conferences, publications, and writing.
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. His broader research interests include religious epistemology and the confrontation of the Christian faith with philosophical modernity. Under the direction of Reinhard Huetter, and with the support of the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, 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. He succeeds in this way, as Jason argues, by construing faith as primarily an act of obedience from which beliefs follow secondarily.
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. In 2020, Rajaratnam's scholarship earned him the Susan Perry Award from the College Theology Society. Previously, he studied at Boston College where he earned a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.). More can be learned about Rajaratnam at his website DeepTheology.com.
Rajaratnam's doctoral research lies at the intersection of two lines of Catholic intellectual inquiry – the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful), and the local church. Building on the foundation laid by ressourcement theologian Yves Congar and incorporating ideas from ecclesiologist Ormand Rush, Rajaratnam offers an alternative to overly universalized paradigms of the sensus fidelium. Employing a framework of communion ecclesiology and ecclesial synodality, Rajaratnam employs ethnography to further assess the sensus fidelium within local churches. Such an approach enables Rajaratnam to engage in discernment and constructive theology from within the life of a local church and in doing so, Rajaratnam addresses his work to multiple publics - academic, ecclesial, and lay. By drawing on the lived expressions of the Church’s life and intellectual tradition, Rajaratnam's dissertation contributes to critical and ongoing conversations catalyzed by Pope Francis regarding synodality and processes of ecclesial discernment.
A scholar of constructive theology, Deepan 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. Her interests include Thomas Aquinas's reception of Greek exegetical sources, the Thomistic understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the thought of Jacques and Raïssa Maritain. She lives in New York City with her husband and sons.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 Stephen 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. Stephan’s broad fields of study are patristic theology and the theology of the Latin Middle Ages and Greek Byzantine periods. His research includes the Christology of the late Fathers of the Church (e.g., Sts. Maximus the Confessor, Gregory the Great, and John of Damascus) and its reception among the Latin Scholastics. Stephan is an active member of the North American Patristics Society (NAPS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). Beyond his focus in historical theology and the history of Christianity, Stephan engages the spectrum of the Catholic theological tradition from Biblical Studies to modern systematics. Additionally, Stephan is a proud advocate for software freedom who has presented (FOSDEM) and published (FreeBSD Journal) recently on the intersection between free and open source software and historical theological research. Stephan lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.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. In the introduction, then, Stephan reveals the primary link between Maximus and Aquinas as reflection on what it means that God became man. Next, he sets the stage for the Christological debates in which Sts. Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus (Maximus's chief transmitter), and Thomas Aquinas participated in their own times by outlining the late antique struggles between Nestorius, Cyril, and their pupils. Stephan then explains Maximus’s Christology in each of its contexts: historical, philosophical (Platonic and Aristotelian), textual, and conciliar (following Constantinople II). To argue that Aquinas inherited a faithful synthesis of Maximus's thought, Stephan demonstrates John of Damascus’s careful textual fidelity to Maximus. Moreover, Stephan judges the quality of Burgundio of Pisa’s twelfth-century translation of the most Maximian portions of the Damascene's work via Greek-to-Latin textual comparison and medieval manuscript study. Stephan studies the record's miscellany, including the place of Maximus's ideas in the acts of Constantinople III and the purported quotations of Maximus in the *Liber de fide Trinitatis,* from which Aquinas drew wholesale to prepare the *Contra errores Graecorum.* To expose the influence of Aquinas's direct peers on his own work, Stephan explores St. Albert the Great’s and St. Bonaventure’s most Maximian writings. Having finished the story of how Maximus's thought made it to Aquinas, Stephan offers a text-based, chronological analysis of Aquinas's growth as a Maximian, including how a Maximian Christological turn was one part of his oft-noted 'Greek Patristic turn.' Stephan closes by outlining how what he calls "Thomistic Maximianism" can serve the cause of re-communion between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.