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Religious Studies Department Santa Clara University

Spring 2011

Perspectives When I asked department chair Dr. Gary Macy why he studied theology for his Ph.D. at Cambridge when he had been an English literature major in undergrad, he responded that it was the obvious choice. “You study everything in theology!” he explained. Dr. Macy said his best professors in undergrad at Marquette in Milwaukee were in the Theology department. When he got closer to graduate school, he realized he had many interests and the only way he could pursue them all was under the umbrella of theology. Not many other areas of academia allow you to study history, philosophy, political science, art, sociology, anthropology, and literature all at once. After teaching at UC San Diego for 29 years, Dr. Macy found himself at Santa Clara for the school’s unique perspective. “The university is very serious in relating Jesuit intellectual training and the Catholic mentality of social awareness to education,” he told me. Dr. Macy says that he’s enjoyed being a part of such an esteemed department that has such diverse expertise. It was a great honor for him to be named department chair, especially when he believed there to be other people equally qualified to take the position who had been at SCU longer. The confidence that his colleagues held in him after just four years in the department has been one of Dr. Macy’s most positive experiences at the school. I asked him his future plans for the department and he said he hopes to see a West Coast center for theology developed at SCU. The “West Coast style” of theology that Dr. Macy explained to me is one where all faiths converse and work together for a better society. The “globalization” that occurs here in the Bay Area makes Santa Clara an especially appropriate location for inter-religious dialogue. Through conversations with other religions and the school’s focus on social justice, Dr. Macy st hopes that Santa Clara can help build a Catholic community for the 21 century. The acquisition of the Jesuit School of Theology has been a step in the right direction, and Dr. Macy hopes to see its interaction with the Religious Studies department grow in the future.


Holy Week in El Salvador


Faculty Updates


Life After SCU


Student Research Colloquium


RS Reception


Alumni Updates


In the short term, the department is adding a new component to the religious studies major. Students will be required to take a research methods course and develop research projects where they will present their final papers to the school. I personally was one of the first guinea pigs of this initiative. I really enjoyed my project on women’s ordination in Catholicism and it gave me a good taste of what graduate school in the field of religious studies may be like. Dr. Macy also hopes to see the Local Religions Project expand so that more students can have the opportunity to interact first-hand with the religions they are studying. One of the greatest strengths of our Religious Studies department, Dr. Macy explained to me, was that the Bay Area is our classroom. How many other places can you learn about the world’s great religious traditions and be able to visit and converse with members in their place of worship? Personally, I can’t think of a better time to be a student in the Religious Studies department. I only wish I could travel back in time to return to Santa Clara. Dr. Macy: Bona fortuna. I know we’re all excited for the department’s future. --Laura Martin, ‘10

Newsletter Editor: Adam Reiss


As some of you may know, I was born in El Salvador and came to the United States at the age of two. I customarily share this with my students in my introduction at the beginning of each course that I teach here at SCU. This is a very important part of what motivates my teaching and my involvement at SCU. This quarter I am on sabbatical and have been researching the lives of Archbishop Romero and Rutilio Grande, S.J., martyrs of El Salvador. With this purpose in mind, I traveled to El Salvador at the end of the winter quarter to continue my research in the library of the Jesuit University of Central America (UCA) located at the Centro Monseñor Romero. In addition, I looked forward to celebrating Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Sonsonate, El Salvador. As it turned out, this became the primary focus of my time in El Salvador. Over the years, I had often heard how spectacular Holy Week is celebrated and lived in Sonsonate. Last year, I experienced for myself what it was like to be in Sonsonate during Holy Week. Unlike our experience in the United States, everything closes down during Holy Week. The main focus is on accompanying Jesus during this sacred time of the Christian calendar. In Sonsonate, the myriad confraternities devoted to the diverse dimensions of the sufferings and death of Jesus begin their participation in the processions that take place throughout the city.

Faculty Updates On April 14th Socorro CastañedaLiles participated as keynote speaker at Noche Latina, a dinner for Latino students who have been admitted to SCU. Since stepping down as Chair, Paul Crowley, S.J. has been teaching “Religious Mystery and Rational Reflection" as well as proctoring a student-run course in "Catholic Social Teaching" as a visiting professor at Stanford. He is also working there through the Haas Center with a project that would link Kino Border Initiative with wider non-profit networks in Nogales. In March, Elizabeth Drescher was interviewed by Los Angeles Times writer Nomi Morris for the article "A Day of Rest Enters the Digital Age." On Good Friday, she was interviewed by KQED's Stephanie Martin for a segment on "ReligionThemed Mobile Apps." She also published an article in the Religion Dispatches, "Facebook Doesn’t Kill Churches, Churches Kill Churches,” which was highlighted in an article by Margret Alrich in the UtneReader, "Digital Detox." Drescher will address the Episcopal Booksellers Association at the Religious Booksellers Trade Expo in June and deliver a number of talks on religion and new media for churches and other religious groups across the country over the summer.

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Holy Week in El Salvador It is a twenty-four hour activity with the young and the old taking part in the processions. Men, women and children wearing the appropriate garb accompany the floats (andas) that carry the statues of Jesus of Nazareth (Jesús Nazareño), Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, and John the Beloved Disciple. The floats may weigh up to two tons and these are carried through the streets by men and women who have prepared themselves for this arduous task. It seems that everyone is aware of Holy Week. In neighborhoods like that of my cousins, families prepare beautifully designed street carpets made of flowers, dyed sawdust and other materials. The purpose of these carpets (alfombras) is to soften the path of Jesus as his suffering image is carried by the fraternities (Hermandad) throughout the city streets. Holy Week is a family and community event. No one is excluded, not even the street vendors who sell flowers for the carpets, soft drinks for the thirsty participants, or toys for the children. It is impossible to give an adequate account of this Semana Santa experience in this brief space. I loved it all, but my favorite celebration took place in Izalco, a small town close to Sonsonate. Izalco’s indigenous history has created a mixture of indigenous religious practices with Catholic tradition. On Holy Thursday, the procession of the thirteen palm covered crosses carrying the body of the crucified Jesus takes place. The procession is preceded by indigenous men, women, and children wearing their traditional garb. Indigenous musicians playing a small flute and a drum provide some of the music. A Mayan priest accompanies the procession along with a small float carrying the patron saint of Izalco, San Nicolascito. The procession expands to include members of the confraternities dressed in purple garb (pictured upper left). Some of them carry the floats of the suffering Jesus, Mary the Sorrowful Mother, and John the Beloved Disciple while others walk along. What I liked most about this ritual was that the indigenous roots still permeate this traditional celebration. I look forward to incorporating these enriching experiences of Holy Week in El Salvador in my courses. As usual, I will bring back images of these celebrations to add to my growing photo collection. --Ana María Pineda, R.S.M.


Faculty Updates, Cont. Religious Studies faculty, staff, and families made their annual pilgrimage to AT&T Park to cheer on the world champion San Francisco Giants in a 2-1 victory over Oakland.

Life After SCU I recently had the opportunity to converse with recent alumna, Maggi Van Dorn (08), who is pursuing graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School. The two of us have much in common: we share a love of writing, we are spiritual women, and most importantly, we both receive tremendous support from the Religious Studies department. She thinks of her time in Religious Studies as an important period of incubation, where she was encouraged and enabled to flourish as a student and a person. Van Dorn remembers her introductory courses at Santa Clara with Professor Kitty Murphy, where she began her studies of religion while simultaneously challenging “all that she had known.” She engaged scripture and interpreted texts, but she also took in the reinventions of Karl Rahner introduced by Professor Paul Crowley. She notes she was given the infrastructure she needed to study religion along with the freedom to challenge, question, and reinterpret tradition. As she put it, “Santa Clara has always encouraged me to follow my bliss, to examine where my passions and gifts meet the world's real needs, and that has certainly proven a guiding maxim to live by.” This summer Van Dorn will take on the responsibility of summer editorial writer with a magazine called Images. With this position, Van Dorn will be able to assist in “publishing creative theological material that nourishes the heart and the head.” --Zena Andreani, ‘12

Perspectives would enjoy hearing what other alumni are up to or what they remember about their time with the department, as well. Email us at

Visiting professor Fulgence Ratsimbazafy, S.J. finished up his doctorate at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley while concurrently teaching at Santa Clara during spring quarter (pictured above). This spring, Kristin Heyer and Socorro Castañeda-Liles joined colleagues from Santa Clara, the University of San Francisco and Loyola Marymount University for a conference on the binational Kino Border Initiative. They discussed ways California Jesuit universities can collaborate to assist with the KBI's research, formation and advocacy efforts. Heyer presented her research on immigration policy and family separation there. In April she presented the semi-annual "Gathering Points: Tracking the Spirit in Challenging Times" lecture at Marquette University. She also collaborated with Sarita TamayoMoraga on a presentation to the Unity Residential Learning Community on "Crossing the Desert" for the campus’ immigration week. PhIlip Boo Riley was elected to the Board of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), whose launch was hosted by SCU last March. “Like the Parliament of World Religions, the goal is harmony, not unity,” Riley explains. “We are going to be a place where faith communities can have civil dialogue; no throwing things at each other from opposite sides of the street.” Jason Smick was recently ordained as a Humanist Chaplain at Stanford University, sponsored by the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley.


Student Participants and their Research Projects Brittany Adams “Border Brothers in the U.S. Immigration Debate” Heidi Cossentine “Does Science Education Impact Worldview Beliefs?” Ian Ghows “Shinto Under Arms” Paul Kosloski “The Sacrificial Burning Man” John Logan “Reflections on Our Relationship with God” Kevin Senefeld “Catholic Imaginations Amidst our Pluralistic World: Youthful Lamentations” Mark Vetto “A Gospel of Death for a Culture of Death”

On February 19, 2011, Professor Sally Vance-Trembath (seen far left in the above picture) served as an Honorary Coach for the Santa Clara University Women’s Basketball Team. She has taught many of the team members through her summer course offerings.

Students Shine at Annual Religious Studies Research Colloquium At the culmination of their two-quarter research methods seminar, Religious Studies majors and minors presented their work at the second annual research colloquium. Six students offered engaging and substantive discussions of their research on a wide array of topics (see below), utilizing social scientific and theological methodologies and considering contexts ranging from Santa Clara’s own campus to Japan. Professor Jerome Baggett, a sociologist of religion on faculty at the Jesuit School of Theology, served as respondent. He offered constructive assessments of each student’s project with suggestions for further development—and characteristic doses of humor. As Professor Akiba Lerner noted in his opening remarks, not only does an extensive research project require discipline and perseverance, but the discipline of religious studies provides students with “an opportunity to write on what really matters and excites them on a level that often goes beyond the confines and rigors of scholarship.” Given the subject matter, such projects might demand students “confront demons and insecurities, explore hopes and fears, or discover new avenues for your own future spiritual and intellectual development.” The stimulating and lively evening concluded with a dinner celebration for all participants.


Congratulations to Our Graduating Seniors and TAK Inductees Graduating Majors:

On May 25 Religious Studies students, faculty, and staff gathered at the annual reception to honor graduating seniors. Professor Socorro Casta単eda-Liles gave the annual faculty address, where she emphasized the enduring relevance of religious ideas and practices and celebrated the contribution that the graduates' competence shaped by conscience and compassion offers the world.

Religious Studies Award Recipients Religious Studies Prize - Angela (Ember) Cooke and Anna Paustenbach Theodore J. Mackin Senior Paper Award - John Logan Tennant C. Wright Award for Outstanding RS Minor - Kiley Winsnes Joseph A. Grassi Award - Mark Vetto

Angela (Ember) Cooke (March '11) John Logan Anna Paustenbach Michael Ryle Kevin Senefeld Mark Vetto Andrew Victor Jillian Walker Emmett Winters

Graduating Minors: Yasmin Aranda (March '11) Jennifer Brown Jessica Cuadra Chris Holmes Todd Wiele Kiley Winsnes (March '11)

Catherine Bell Award - Brittany Adams Disciple of Many Masters Award - Kevin Senefeld

New Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society Members: Brittany Adams Zena Andreani Yasmin Aranda Ian Ghows Andrew Koike Caroline Read Arianna Nuti Kevin Senefeld Tanya Schmidt Jillian Walker Kiley Winsnes

Visiting Professor Fra. Anil Sakya offers the invocation of the reception. Every other year, Professor Sakya travels from his post at Mahamakut Buddhist University in Bangkok, Thailand to teach for the Religious Studies Department in Santa Clara.


Religious Studies

Alumni Updates Minor Angelica N. Quinonez (04) completed an MA in Theology at the University of San Francisco in 2010. Her master's thesis was entitled: “On the Cross, At the Altar: A Soteriological Exploration of Redemption Through Christ’s Crucifixion and Remembrance at the Eucharistic Sacrifice." She recently left a 5-year career in public relations to pursue her passion for the subjects of Religion and English as a teacher. She is enrolled in a credential program for English at USF and working on a second MA in Catholic School Teaching. She hopes to be able to teach both subjects at a local Catholic high school and is still pondering a PhD in the future. Vincent Prietto (05) earned his MDiv at the Jesuit School of Theology in 2010 where he met his fiancée, Laura Johnson (JST 11) (pictured at left). They are to be married on June 24. Vincent is now teaching at St. Francis High School in Mountain View. Jessica Coblentz (08) has been admitted to PhD programs in Theology at Boston College and Fordham University. She will be matriculating at Boston College in the fall after completing her Master of Theological Studies degree at Harvard Divinity School. She plans to specialize in systematics and continue studying gender and sexuality, an interest born of her experiences in the RS department at SCU.

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Christina Leone (08) recently graduated with honors with a jointly conferred MA from the Graduate Theological Union and Jesuit School of Theology. She will be teaching at Mitty High School in Cupertino as well as working in campus ministry there.

Santa Clara University Religious Studies Dept. 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA 95053-0335

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