The Hank Center's 2018 Living Tradition Award honors Dr. Jon Nilson

The Hank Center

Every year the Hank Center presents the Living Tradition Award to a Loyola University Chicago emeritus faculty member who has exemplified the integration of Catholic thought into their work, research, and teaching.

The 2018 Living Tradition Award honors Dr. Jon Nilson, Professor Emeritus of Theology, Loyola University Chicago.

About Jon Nilson ‌

Jon Nilson is Professor Emeritus of Theology at Loyola University Chicago. After attending the minor and major seminaries of the Archdiocese of Chicago, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. Before coming to Loyola in 1975, he taught at St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University) and the University of Dallas. He has held visiting professorships at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and the General Theological Seminary (Protestant Episcopal) in New York.

He was appointed to Loyola’s Graduate Faculty in 1977 and was a member of many ad hoc and standing committees in the college and the university, including the Faculty Council, which he chaired from 1979-1983. He collaborated with his colleagues in the Theology Department in various ways, including service as Graduate Programs Director, membership on the Advisory Committee, and Department Chair.

His academic research and publications fall roughly into two periods. In the first period, his primary interest was ecclesiology and, more specifically, issues of authority in the Roman Catholic Church and its relationships with other Christian churches. The second period began in December 2000 when Theological Studies published a special issue entitled “The Catholic Reception of Black Theology.” It contained an article by his friend and colleague Jamie Phelps, O.P., that awakened him to the enduring, systemic, and destructive power of racism in the United States as a reality which demanded the attention of all Christian theologians. His 2003 presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America, “Confessions of a White Catholic Racist Theologian,” became the basis for his most recent book, Hearing Past the Pain. Why White Catholic Theologians Need Black Theology.

Much of his work has been made possible only by the love, support, and wisdom of his wife, Merle Taber. He is close to his three children, all Loyola graduates: Julie Chyna, married to Brent; Amy Connery, married to Matt; and Dan Nilson, married to Rebecca. Merle and Jon always enjoy being with their six grandchildren: Megan, Lindsay, Ella, Conor, Teague, and Eamon, who range from fourteen to six years of age.