Theologians Win Major Jesuit Institute Grants

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Gauvin Bailey, a visiting assistant professor in Church history at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and Paul Crowley, SJ, an assistant professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, have been named Jesuit Institute Visiting Fellows for 1996-97 and will each receive a $37,000 grant to pursue their research at Boston College.

The institute has also awarded a $4,400 grant to the School of Nursing that will fund a series of academic retreats beginning this spring and ending in the fall of 1997. Director of Nursing Research Prof. Mary Duffy will coordinate the series, which has been titled "The Influence of the Jesuit-Catholic Tradition and Principles in Higher Education and Their Application."

In addition, the institute will sponsor several public events this semester [see accompanying story] and is continuing or beginning several interdisciplinary seminars, said Jesuit Institute Director Michael Buckley, SJ.

"The institute is becoming a focal point for the discussion and examination of many compelling issues relating to faith and society," Fr. Buckley said. "The scholars who will be here as our visiting fellows exhibit a broad diversity of areas and yet both embody the meeting of Christianity and culture in a profoundly significant way."

Bailey's project, "Jesuit Mission Methods and the Arts in Mughal India and Paraguay," seeks to contribute to the understanding of the Society of Jesus's unique role in promoting intercultural mediation during the Early Modern Period. He is writing a book for art historians and scholars interested in mission studies and cross-cultural experiences, expanding on a case study of cultural exchange in Northern India to a comparative study of two contrasting yet contemporary missionary episodes in India and Paraguay.

Bailey holds a bachelor's degree in Islamic studies and fine arts and a master's degree in Islamic studies from the University of Toronto. He has also earned a doctorate in fine arts from Harvard University.

The objective of Fr. Crowley's project, "Theological Variations on Tragedy: AIDS as Metaphor," is to construct a theological response to AIDS from a new perspective. As AIDS has collapsed the distinctions between personal and historical scales of tragedy, according to Fr. Crowley, it has raised challenges to traditional theological attitudes and proved to have a far-reaching and transformative effect upon institutions such as the Church.

Fr. Crowley earned a bachelor's degree in humanities, and political and legal philosophy from Stanford University, and a master's degree in philosophical theology from Columbia University. He also holds a doctorate in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, Calif. and a licentiate in scared theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

The impetus for the SON retreats came from recent discussions among faculty about how the school could better fulfill its mission within the Catholic-Jesuit tradition. The major goals of the retreat series are to provide faculty the opportunity to gain more knowledge about the tradition and its place at Boston College, discuss how this knowledge can be integrated into SON programs and activities, and implement one or more activities that will give the tradition academic expression.

According to the proposal, the four half-day retreats would be videotaped and utilized as part of SON orientation for new faculty and students. Each retreat would include presentations, some of them from Jesuits at Boston College, on different aspects of the Jesuit-Catholic tradition, followed by break-out sessions.

One of the institute's most successful initiatives, "The Nature and Character of a Catholic University," will continue as an ongoing seminar, Fr. Buckley said. Originally, the series of discussions - in which faculty reflect on the Catholic-Jesuit dimension of Boston College - was to culminate in a University-wide event. But the talks, organized by Rattigan Professor of English John Mahoney, "actually are producing something of greater value: a continual exploration and conversation among colleagues," Fr. Buckley said.

Other seminars in progress examine such areas as the Catholic community's role in the AIDS crisis, the impact of technology on society and the alienation of intellectuals from religion within American culture. Another seminar slated to begin this year will focus on Catholicism and feminism.

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