Duquesne University’s move to establish a new Department of Catholic Studies is expected to help the Diocese of Pittsburgh educate and form lay persons for ministry in the Church.
The program, which will draw on the expertise and curricular resources of Duquesne’s nine schools, will begin admitting students in the fall of 2021. Its chairman will be Dr. Kenneth L. Parker, a convert to the Catholic faith and former Benedictine monk who earned a Ph.D. in historical theology from the University of Cambridge.
Dr. Parker currently holds the Ryan Endowed Chair for Newman Studies at Duquesne, where he is a professor of historical theology.
“As we move forward, the program will enable the university to attract future lay leaders,” he told The Pittsburgh Catholic. “Such study animates and focuses their life of faith, attracting them to some form of service in the Church.
“This is an exciting expansion of living out the university’s mission—learning the Catholic faith and living it.”
Effective religious education is a key goal of the diocese’s On Mission for The Church Alive! planning initiative. Duquesne University has long educated lay leaders across the diocese, including catechetical administrators, youth ministers, college campus ministers, Catholic school principals, religion teachers and parish catechists.
“Pittsburgh’s historic Catholic heritage and Duquesne University’s longstanding Spiritan charism—in accord with Catholic social teaching—promote dialogue on vital issues of our day through a distinctive Catholic lens,” said university president Ken Gormley.
The department is being funded initially through a gift from an anonymous donor.
The University Academic Council is reviewing proposals for majors and minors in Catholic studies, and may offer certificates, other credentials and graduate programs. The new department also is expected to encourage research and organize conferences and symposia.
“The department will promote local and global collaborations not only among the arts, humanities and social sciences but also among other areas such as law and the health professions,” said Dr. Kristine Blair, dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne.
Dr. David Dausey, executive vice president and provost at Duquesne, observed that “This department allows us to expand our footprint in Catholic studies while also building upon the charisms of the Spiritans and the careful study of the Catholic intellectual tradition.”
Duquesne University was founded in 1878 by a group of Catholic missionaries known today as the Spiritans. The university serves about 9,500 students.