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Boston College Theologian M. Shawn Copeland Honored with Seton Medal

Chestnut Hill, Mass. (October 2011) - Associate Professor of Systematic Theology M. Shawn Copeland has been awarded the St. Elizabeth Seton Medal, established in 1966 by the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, OH, to recognize distinguished women in theology. The medal was presented to Copeland at an Oct. 12 event at the College of Mount St. Joseph, where Copeland delivered an address titled "To Be the Body of Christ."

M. Shawn Copeland (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

The St. Elizabeth Seton Medal is named in honor of the foundress of the Sisters of Charity, the congregation that established the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1920 and continues to sponsor it today. Seton Medal recipients are selected for their contributions to an area of theology, including scripture, systematics, spirituality, ministry, and historical theology. They must possess a doctorate in a related field and be distinguished by a career in higher education noted for excellence in teaching and/or making a major contribution to scholarship within the field.

”I am very appreciative of this recognition. I also am humbled to be included in the company of such outstanding women scholars and theologians who previously have received this award, including my colleagues [Theology Professor] Pheme Perkins and [J. Donald Monan, SJ Professor of Theology] Lisa Sowle Cahill.”

Copeland, who holds a doctorate from Boston College/Andover Newton Theological School, is known for her research and teaching on theological anthropology and political theology as well as African and African-derived religious and cultural experience. The author of more than 80 articles, reviews and book chapters, Copeland is the author of the books, Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being and The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille. She also served as principal editor of and a contributor to Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience.

She was the first African-American to serve as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and is a past convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium. In 2010, Copeland received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the Aquinas Institute of Theology, a graduate school of theology and seminary founded and sponsored by the Dominican Order, in St. Louis, Missouri.

BC theologians Perkins and Cahill were honored with the Seton Medal in 1997 and 2001, respectively.

--Kathleen Sullivan, Office of News & Public Affairs,