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School of Theology and Ministry

Richard Lennan

professor of systematic theology

Richard Lennan

Contact Information | (617) 552-6522
9 Lake Street, Room 214


B.A., S.T.B., M.Phil., Dr. Theol. (Innsbruck)

Areas of Interest

Richard’s principal fields of study are ecclesiology, ecumenism, and the theology of ministry; he is particularly interested in the theology and spirituality of Karl Rahner.


Richard Lennan, who is Professor of Systematic Theology in the STM, grew up in Newcastle, on the east coast of Australia, and has been a priest of the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle (Australia) since 1983. Richard has a degree in history from the University of Newcastle, a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic Institute of Sydney, a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford and a doctorate in theology from the University of Innsbruck in Austria, where his dissertation was on Karl Rahner’s ecclesiology. From 1992 to 2007, he taught Systematic Theology in the Catholic Institute of Sydney; from 2005-07 he was President of the Australian Catholic Theological Association. Richard taught at Weston Jesuit School of Theology (2007-08), before becoming part of the Boston College Theology and Ministry at its foundation in 2008; from 2010-13, he was Chair of the STM’s Ecclesiastical Faculty. Richard has authored two books and edited four others.

Beyond theology, Richard’s interests are movies, politics, modern history, and trying to get fit (or less unfit) by running. On weekends, he assists with the liturgy in Sacred Heart parish in North Quincy MA.


Fall 2014
Fundamental Theology (TMST 7009)
The Church (TMST 7020)

Spring 2015
Ecclesial Ministry (TMST 8017)
Seminar: Karl Rahner (TMST 8505)

Other Courses
TM 646- Theology & Spirituality of Ordained & Lay Ministers

Recent Publications

A Continuing Pilgrimage: Ecclesiology Since Vatican II, Australasian Catholic Record 91 (2014): 21-48

Evangelii Gaudium: The Good News from Pope Francis, Compass 48 (2014): 3-8

Hope: Promise, Possibility, and Fulfillment (co-editor with Nancy Pineda-Madrid), (Mahwah NJ: Paulist 2013)

'The Church: Got Hope?' in Hope: Promise, Possibility, and Fulfillment, ed. Richard Lennan & Nancy Pineda-Madrid) (Mahwah NJ: Paulist 2013), 42-54

‘The Church as Mission: Locating Vocation in Its Ecclesial Context’, in The Disciples’ Call: Theologies of Vocation from Scripture to the Present Day, ed. Christopher Jamison (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 43-63

'“Narcissistic Aestheticism?”: An Assessment of Karl Rahner’s Sacramental Ecclesiology’, Philosophy and Theology, 25 (2013): 249-70

‘Understanding the Theology of the Church’ - video/audio recordings (Now You Know Media, 2013)

‘The Theology of Karl Rahner: An Alternative to the Ressourcement?’ in Ressourcement: A Movement for Renewal in Twentieth-Century Theology, ed. Gabriel Flynn & Paul Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 405-22

‘The Challenge of Authority’ in Vatican II: Reception and Implementation in the Australian Church, ed. Neil Ormerod et al. (Melbourne: John Garrett, 2012), 176-92

‘The Church as a Sacrament of Hope’, Theological Studies 72 (2011): 247-74

‘Catholicity: Its Challenge for the Church’, New Theology Review 24 (2011): 36-48

Editor, The Vocations of Religious and the Ordained, (Boston College: C21 Resources, Spring 2011)

Risking the Church: The Challenges of Catholic Faith (Oxford University Press, 2004)

The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner (Clarendon Press, 1995; reprinted 1997 & 2002)
as Editor

The Possibility of Belief: The Challenges and Prospects of Catholic Faith (St Pauls, 2004)

An Introduction to Catholic Theology (Paulist, 1998)

Redefining the Church: Vision and Practice (E J Dwyer, 1995) Chapters

‘Roman Catholic Ecclesiology’ in The Routledge Companion to the Christian Church, ed. Gerard Mannion and Lewis Mudge (Routledge, 2008), 234-50

‘Ecclesiology and Ecumenism’ in The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner, ed. Declan Marmion & Mary Hines (Cambridge University Press, 2005), 128-43