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Jesuit and leading scholar named chair of Catholic theology

October 12, 2012

After a two-year search, eminent scholar Edward Vacek, S.J., Ph.D., was named this fall as The Rev. Stephen J. Duffy Chair in Catholic Studies at Loyola University New Orleans.

As the first endowed chair in the humanities at Loyola, Vacek will work to advance scholarship and develop public programs concerned with the unique Catholic culture of Louisiana and the contributions of southern Catholics to American cultural history. Vacek comes to Loyola from the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C., and prior to that, taught at Boston College from 2008 to 2011.

“Edward Vacek is a welcome presence here at Loyola,” said Loyola University President Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. “His work will focus on how the Catholic tradition informs culture, institutions and ideas in an ever-changing society. That focus is very special to our roots as a Jesuit and Catholic institution of higher education.”

One of Vacek’s key responsibilities as chair is to develop new core and complementary courses, as well as team-taught, interdisciplinary courses in collaboration with faculty from the departments of philosophy, history and English. In addition to teaching courses in systematic theology, particularly in the area of Christian morality, Vacek will also host public lectures. As a Jesuit priest, he will be involved in the Eucharist and prayer at Loyola as well as offering service to the New Orleans Archdiocese.

Vacek spent 33 years in a pontifical seminary researching and writing to help the church’s theology evolve. His work reflects his deep interest in social justice topics, including the fight against racism and sexism. Vacek has a license in sacred theology from Loyola University Chicago, a master’s degree in philosophy and letters from St. Louis University, a master’s of divinity from the Weston School of Theology and a doctorate in philosophy from Northwestern University. He joined the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 1981, which later became the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

A widely published author, Vacek has contributed more than 60 articles to various popular and scholarly publications and is the author of the book “Love, Human and Divine.” His current research explores the connections between emotions and the Christian life. After surviving Hurricane Isaac during the first week of school, Vacek says he is ready for more intellectual and spiritual challenges.

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