Religious Life Lecture Series 2007-2008

Laborem Exercens (On Human Labour)
John Paul II
14 September 1981

“Through work the human person must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family (LE, Prologue).”

This year’s lectures will focus on the dignity of human labour and how men and women cooperate in God’s desire for peace and justice through their daily activities.

September 20, 2007

Prof Fred Evers

Image: Lucy Reid

Professor Fred Evers & Reverend Canon Lucy Reid
“Working with Spirit:  Engaging Spirituality to Meet the Challenges of the Workplace”

Anglican priest Lucy Reid and Sociology professor Fred Evers have collaborated to create a book on spirituality in the workplace. Working with Spirit:  “Engaging Spirituality to Meet the Challenges of the Workplace” is written from a Christian perspective, and includes stories of people who are seeking balance, integrity and community in their work.

The authors describe the shift from an agrarian society to an industrialized one, with the accompanying fragmentation and compartmentalization of work, faith and family life.  They describe some of the challenges of the modern workplace, from overwork and burn-out to conflict and consumerism.  Arguing that spirituality brings a perspective that can address these challenges, the authors offer practical resources for connecting the human spirit with the world of work. 

The presentation will cover various aspect of the book, highlight issues and problems in today’s workplace and the ways that spirituality can help alleviate those problems. 

Fred Evers is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Educational Research and Development Unit (ERDU) at the University of Guelph.  He teaches courses in the sociology of organizations, leadership, research methods, quantitative analysis techniques and statistics, and capstone coursesDr. Evers has received several teaching awards, including the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship in 2001.  His publications include journal articles, chapters in books, papers in conference proceedings, and the book:  The Bases of Competence:  Skills for Life long Learning and Employability (Jossey- Bash, Inc., Publishers, 1998. In 2004 Lucy Reid and Fred published the book:  Working with Spirit:  Engaging Spiruitality to Meet the Challenges of the Workplace. 

Lucy Reid is an Anglican priest and ecumenical campus minister at the University of Guelph. She worked in parishes in England, Montreal and northern Ontario for ten years before moving to Guelph in 1991.  As a campus minister Lucy offers pastoral counseling.  She has also convened Spirituality in the Workplace group for faculty and staff for more than 10 years. In 2005 Lucy co-authored the book:  Working with Spirit:  Engaging Spirituality to Meet the Challenges of the Workplace with Fred Evers.  She is also the author of She Changes Everything:  Seeking the Divine on a Feminist Path, published in 2005.

September 27, 2007

Image: Michael Fahy
Michael A. Fahey, PhD
“Muslims, Christians, Jews:  Convivencia in the 21st Century”

Through media and film Dr. Fahy will address the often tenuous relationship shared between the followers of the three great Abrahamic faiths. How should medieval Christendom’s response to Judaism and to Islam be understood today?  How might we understand each other in a world torn by violence and discord?  Answering some of these questions will provide the audience the foundations for how to work for mutual tolerance, coexistence and even prosperity.

Michael Fahy’s academic accomplishments include studies concentrated in the Middle East and a doctorate in Anthropology.  In addition to his current position at the University of Michigan, Dr. Fahy is also a lecturer in the Leadership Development and Education for Sustained Peace, Centre for Civilian-Military Relations, Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Monterey, California.  The recipient of numerous awards, Michael has been published in the international Journal for Higher Learning, the Canadian Journal of Sociology and Anthropology and the American Ethnologist.
Sponsored by the Centre for Catholic-Jewish Learning

October 18, 2007

The Sisters of St. Joseph/Ursuline Sisters of the Chatham Union
“Imagination, Grace and the Greening of our Buildings”

In a recent letter to the Minister of the Environment, the president of the Canadian Religious Conference which represents 22,000 members of Religious Congregations across Canada stated, “We care about our world.  We are more than willing to do our part as Canadian citizens to reduce the negative impact of greenhouse gas emissions.  We also want our Canadian government to enact policies which reflect the best of who awe are as global citizens.”

In this evening the Ursuline Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph will share both the ethical/spiritual aspects of choosing to build “green” buildings as well as the practical implications.  They will be joined by other panelists who were involved in the planning and construction of their projects.

Panelists will include:  Patricia McLean O.S.U. who is on the Leadership Team of the Ursuline Sisters, Margo Ritchie, C.S.J. who is a member of the Energy and Design Committee of the Sisters of St. Joseph., Paul Henke who works with McKay-Cocker and was the construction project coordinator for the new Sisters of St. Joseph residence, Jana Jedlovska, B.A.Sc. Eng. who works with Enermodal Engineering Limited and who was our LEED consultant.  Terra Kitzul, B. Arch who works with Jorden and Cook Architect Limited and who was one of the architects on the Ursuline Sister’s new residence.
Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of London

November 8, 2007

Image: Sister Margaret
Sister Margaret McGrath
“Through the Prism of the Roman Ghetto:  Jews and Christians in the Eternal City”

What motivated a 16th century pope to force the Jews of Rome to live behind ghetto walls?  Was such a move consistent with Christian attitudes in preceding centuries?  What effect did the ghettoization of Roman Jews have on Christians – in Rome, in the Papal States and beyond?  The Roman ghetto continued to exist into modern times.  What does that reality have to say to us as Christians today?

Margaret McGrath is a member of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Sion.  She holds an MA in Jewish-Christian Studies from Seton Hall University in New Jersey, USA and has almost thirty years experience in promoting Jewish-Christian understanding, both on the international and local levels, through her work at the SIDIC Centre in Rome.  She studied for two years in Jerusalem, including courses at the Hebrew University. Shad has recently re-located to her native Canada.
Sponsored by the Centre for Catholic-Jewish Learning

November 22, 2007

Image: Sharon Halsey-Hoover
Sharon Halsey-Hoover
“Conversations with Dorothy Day”

“Conversations with Dorothy Day” depicts Dorothy stopping by to share a cup of coffee and to visit with friends while she talks about her life.  The setting is the present time and the “powers that be” have given Dorothy permission to be gone from the heavenly realm for a very short time.  During the visit Dorothy reads form her journals, her books, and other writings as she shares the story of her conversion and the founding of The Catholic Worker.  “Conversations with Dorothy Day” is approximately 45 to 60 minutes in length and is followed by a conversation with Sharon Halsey-Hoover during a question and answer period.

Sharon Halsey-Hoover lives in Orange, California, where she is on the adjunct staff for The Centre for Spiritual Development, and is Assistant Director of Bethany, a transitional residence for homeless women.  For over 20 years this wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, actor, storyteller and spiritual director has been a public speaker and retreat presenter, and has served as youth minister, Director of Religious Education, and as therapist in a domestic violence shelter.  Dorothy’s ability to see Jesus in each person she encountered, her protest of injustice against the poor, her commitment to non-violence and her willingness to speak out against all wars have encouraged Sharon.  Sharon is greatly honored and privileged to have the opportunity to spread the Good News according to Dorothy Day.

January 17, 2008

Image: Gregory Baum
Gregory Baum
“The Priority of Labour over Capital:  John Paul ll on Economic Justice”

John Paul ll’s famous encyclical on labour was written in 1981 at a time when he supported the struggle for greater justice of the Polish labour union Solidarnosc.  His stress on the importance of labour unions, his critique of liberal capitalism and his teaching on the conditional character of private property seemed radical to reader in North America.  John Paul was inspired by a bold Catholic social theory called Solidarism worked out by German authors at the beginning of the 20th century.  After the collapse of communism in Poland in 1989, John Paul advocated by Solidarnosc, Poland turned uncritically to the principles of the unregulated mark system.

Dr. Gregory Baum, Professor Emeritus of Theology at McGill University.  His many books include The Priority of Labour:  A Commentary on ‘Laborem Exercens’ (1982), Religion and Ethics (2001), Amazing Church:  A Catholic Theologian Remembers a Half-Century of Change (Novalis, 2005).  He is the founder and former editor of The Ecumenist, a journal of theology, culture and society.
Sponsored by the London District Catholic School Board

February 21, 2008

Image: St. Cecilia Singers

St.Cecilia Singers, Don Wright Faculty of Music, UWO

(under the direction of Gloria Gassi)
“Gift and Givers”

Our gifts are blessings which we share with the human family.  In sharing our gifts, we share in the tasks of the Creator and thus our works are an expression of our dignity and creativity.  Work is for the person, not the person for work. St. Cecilia Singers will present songs to nourish the heart and spirit, to rejuvenate and restore all givers who contribute their gifts generously.

The St. Cecelia Singers is the Don Wright Faculty of Music’s recently formed women’s choir.  It has already distinguished itself as an exciting ensemble capable of performing varied and interesting music.  They perform their own concerts on and off campus as well as joining the other choirs for the annual Choral Celebration and large choral-orchestral works.

March 6, 2008

Dr. Megan Shore
Dr. Megan Shore
“Christianity, Justice and South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC):  The Dignity of Work in Post-Apartheid South Africa”

In 1996 South African embarked on a monumental process known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Itwas a government mandated process to help South Africa transition from apartheid to democracy, one in which Christianity played a prominent role. The TRC helped shape the post-conflict reconstruction stage of South Africa’s transition through an emphasis on truth-telling and reconciliation, despite certain limitations when it came to generating justice. Indeed 10 years after the TRC commenced its work the greatest criticism that remains is the issue of justice, particularly economic disparities. The lack of meaningful work, coupled with historical racism and other structural injustices, has created a post-apartheid tension regarding the prospects for long-term justice in SA. This lecture will examine on the role Christianity played in the TRC and the role it continues to play in working to create a culture of social justice in South Africa.

Megan Shore is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Social Justice Studies at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario. She completed her PhD at the University of Leeds, UK with a dissertation entitled, “The Role of Christianity in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation: A Case Study in Religious Conflict Resolution.” She is former Director of St. Jerome’s Centre for Catholic Experience at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses on the relationship between religion, violence and conflict resolution.