Religious Life Lecture Series 2006-2007

For the People - Populorum Progressio

This year’s series marks the Fortieth Anniversary of Populorum Progressio and aims at providing a forum whereby we can continue to reflect on Pope Paul VI’s invitation to strive for fuller growth in every facet of life.

September 21, 2006
Dr. Eva Olsson LLD (Hon.)
Dr. Eva Olsson LLD (Hon.)

In her lifetime Eva Olsson has battled against the discrimination of being uneducated (as a result of her extreme Orthodox upbringing), of an interracial marriage, of being an outcast from her surviving family, of being an immigrant, a widow and a single parent.  During all of these struggles she sought to deal with the haunting nightmares of the holocaust and she emerged with a victorious spirit and the courage to bring a message of hope to young people.

Eva is a Holocaust survivor, author and widely acclaimed public speaker. She lectures throughout Ontario and the Upper states at public schools, colleges and universities about tolerance and compassion.  Her national best selling book is entitled, “Unlocking the Doors:  A Woman’s Struggle Against Intolerance”.
October 5, 2006
Allan Irving, Ph.D.
Allan Irving, Ph.D.

Between the Alpha and Omega we have an Interlude full of possibilities for the invention of divine and creative spaces.  Through a number of art forms – visual, poetry and music – the illustrated lecture will explore the question of whether Christianity can offer some measures of healing and wholeness by creating divine space in the flux, fragmentation and degradation of the postmodern world.  Do we agree with Jacques Derrida that we can never be fully at home in the world?  To capture some of the meanings of postmodernism, musical examples will be drawn and played from Beck, Bjork, John Zorn and Mauricio Kagel.  Then poems from Denise Levertov, Scott Cairns and Jorie Graham will probe verbal representations of Christ; and visually Henri Matisse’s Way of the Cross, Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross, and Robert Wilson’s 14 Stations will be shown and discussed for their possible contribution to Nietzsche’s view that “joy accepts everlasting flow.”

Allan Irving taught in the King’s Social Work Program from 1980-84, in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto 1984-1998, and at Widener University near Philadelphia in social work from 1998-2003.  In 2003 he returned to King’s.  He has published and edited books and articles on postmodern art and social work including ReadingFoucault for Social Work, (Columbia University Press, 1999) edited with two colleagues.  As well as teaching in the school of social work and the department of history he is the Coordinator of the Centre for Creativity at King’s.
October 19, 2006
Le Theatre Parminou
Le Theatre Parminou
“LOST IN TRAFFIC: Making people aware of the trafficking of women and children"

In the play, Lost in Traffic, the audience is made aware of the existence of the trafficking of women and children, and is urged to take measures to counter this worldwide network of organized crime.  In order to do so, we must create another kind of worldwide network that will rise up and declare:  Enough is enough!

Founded over 30 years ago, the touring company Le Theatre Parminou is still faithful to its original mission of creating plays dealing with current social themes, and of performing them with passion and conviction.  Whether the plays are presented in villages or big cities, in schools, parish halls, prisons, factories, or other workplaces, Le Parminou always surprises and entertains while informing the audience.
Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of London, The Centre for Creativity and the Centre for Social Concern
November 9, 2006
Valleyview Male Chorus
Valleyview Male Chorus

This concert will include a variety of choral selections from “Songs of Peace’ to ‘Folk Songs’.

The Valleyview Male Chorus has been in existence for 10 years.  The chorus began at Valleyview Mennonite Church in 1996 with the intent of providing occasional music for Sunday morning worship services.  Inspired by the joy of singing and with strong listener support, the chorus has grown to over 30 men, including men from different area churches.  In addition to performances in the London area, the chorus has performed in communities throughout southwestern Ontario.  The purpose of the Valleyview Male Chorus is to provide an opportunity for men to enjoy male chorus singing and, through singing, be of service to the community.  The present and founding director is Henry Boldt and the current accompanist is Elenor Taves.
Christ The King Lecture
November 23, 2006
Christian McConnell, Ph.D.
Christian McConnell, Ph.D.

This lecture will look at the vision of human progress in “Populorum Progressio” and relate it to liturgy as “source and summit” of Christian life in another Vatican II document,“Sacrosanctum Consilium”.  It will explore the relationship between sacramentality, liturgical memory, the Kingdom of God and concerns for justice, peace and development.

Dr. Christian McConnell is currently an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Theology at St. Michael’s College, Toronto.  He recently completed his Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana and has taught for the past three years in the Department of Theology and Graduate School of Theology at St. John’s University, Collegeville MN.
January 18, 2007
David Wells

David Wells
Co-Director of the Department for Formation (Plymouth Diocese, UK)


Sometimes our inclination is to associate religious experience with supernatural, extraordinary moments in our lives.  During this lecture we will look at the association between the familiar, regular, unspectacular routine of our daily lives and the God who speaks through them. Through storytelling, images and spiritual writers we will look for evidence of the still, small voice form a God who seeks to surprise us.

David Wells was a senior teacher in Catholic Education before joining the CES as a Research Assistant.  He is now Co-Director of the Department for Formation within Plymouth Diocese.  His role in the Diocese is to encourage more opportunities for adults to gather together and to continue to learn about their faith.  It is a role which he describes as “a daunting challenge and a wonderful opportunity.”  David is also a member of the Bishop’s Conference Committee for Adult Education and Catechesis.  He is involved in developing learning programmes for parents, including “You, Your Children and their Catholic Faith” produced by the CES and out on video. As an increasingly renowned speaker, David has been invited to work throughout the UK, Europe, USA and Canada.  The most frequent response we hear from David’s evaluations are “He made us laugh and cry in the same session, the time flew by.”
Sponsored by the London District Catholic School Board
February 8, 2007
Professor David Novak
Professor David Novak

This lecture will deal with the question of how Jews and Christians can recognize the truth value of each other’s faith and learn from it, while not giving up their own claims for the truth of Judaism or Christianity.

Professor David Novak holds the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies as Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto since 1997.  He is a member of University College and of the Joint Centre for Bioethics.  David Novak is the author of thirteen books, the last two being The Jewish Social contract:  An Essay in Political Theology and Talking with Christians:  Musings of a Jewish Theologian.  His book, Covenantal Rights: a Study in Jewish Political Theory won the award of the American Academy of Religion for “best book in constructive religious thought in 2000.”  He has edited four books and is the author o over 200 articles in scholarly and intellectual journals.
Sponsored by The Centre for Catholic-Jewish Learning
March 8, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Maxwell E. Johnson

The Rev. Dr. Maxwell E. Johnson
Professor of Liturgical Studies (University of Notre Dame)


If we are truly “dead” and “buried” by our baptism into Christ’s Paschal Mystery then we can afford to be a Church, a “dead Church,”  which understands itself as already having death in its past and walking in “newness of life” only as a most gracious, freely given, and divine gift.  Hence, a Church that knows itself as “dead” and “buried” in baptism can afford to risk itself ecumenically in the pursuit of full and visible Christian unity because it knows already that common Christian identity shares, having been brought to “newness of life” out of a common watery grave.  Johnson’s address will focus on the various meanings of our common baptism into Christ as the foundation for Christian unity, for its greater realization, and as the basis for the Church’s mission in the world to “those peoples who are trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease and ignorance.”

A noted scholar, author and teacher, Maxwell E. Johnson is professor of liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN.  He also serves as an editorial consultant for Worship and is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL) and Societas Liturgica.  An ordained Lutheran minister, Rev. Johnson has a doctorate in theology, with an emphasis in liturgical history, from Notre Dame; he also has master’s degrees in theology from St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, and from Notre Dame.  His master’s in divinity is from Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA and his undergraduate degree in Sociology and Religion from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD.  A prolific writer, he has published twelve books, including most recently, Benedictine Daily Prayer:  A short Breviary (Liturgical Press).

March 22, 2007
Joan Lenardon

Joan Lenardon
Adjunct Professor, Religious Studies (Brescia University College)


Capable of reciting by heart the Summary Certainties of the Faith, and honed morally by a rigorism gentled by the affection of the Nuns, this cradle Catholic girl sprang fully armed from underneath the rock of her Catholic ghetto, eager to fight “the world” for “Christ the King”.  The shock of finding the world “suffused with the glory of God” sent her reeling into the embrace of the Second Vatican Council which liberated her from so many of those unexamined certainties.   The question which has achingly persisted over all these years however, is why Catholic women still are not liberated to be as authoritative within their ecclesial community as their God has proclaimed and their History had demonstrated.

Joan received a B.A. in Political Science form Notre Dame College of Staten Island, New York and an M.A. in History from Hunter College of the city of New York.  In 1962 she emigrated to London to teach European and American History at the “Ursuline College of Arts until 1962.  In 1989 she rejoined Brescia University College to teach a course of her own design:  History of Women in the Christian Tradition.  This thematic course developed out of the General History of the Catholic Church which she had taught at the Faculty of Theology of St. Peter’s Seminary from 1972- 1999.  Her main area of published research is that of the Catholic Church during the French Revolution.  At present she is editing her manuscript on that subject, which McGill-Queens has recommended for publication.