Preachers Resources
Justice and Peace
Faith and Film
Groups and Organizations
Latin America

Free Update

Can't open PDF format files? Click on the link to download the latest Adobe Reader. It is safe and secure and free. Really.
Dominican Life | USA
| Sisters | Associates| Friars | Laity | Nuns | Groups | DLC
| World OP | DSC
free email subscription
Coming Events

Women’s Experiences Guide Theologian’s Work

PORTLAND, OR -- St. Anselm defined theology as, “faith seeking understanding.”  For Sister Kathleen McManus, OP (Blauvelt), it is the experience of faith, as a woman in the Church, which guides her theological work. 

Sr. Kathleen is originally from New York.  She grew up in Queens, but ministered mainly in the Bronx.  It was in a primarily Latino, yet multi-cultural parish that Sr. Kathleen began to see and understand the connections between God, suffering, and the immediacy of joy in loving solidarity.  “When I entered the Blauvelt Dominicans, I believed I was called to hands-on pastoral ministry with the poor. In my Bronx ministry, I learned that the underlying hunger of the poor is the underlying hunger of humanity: the longing to find meaning in the depths of suffering. This has been the compelling motivation of my theological work.”Her experiences in the Bronx led her to begin formal studies in Systematic Theology. 

Sr. Kathleen McManus and Edward Schillebeeckx, OP

Abigail (postulant); Sr. Kathleen McManus (Blauvelt) and Sr. Julietta (Queen of the Holy Rosary)

In the fall of 2000, Kathleen joined the theology faculty at the University of Portland in Oregon, where she is currently an Associate Professor. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in Christology and Foundations of Catholic Theology, as well as undergraduate courses in Theological Anthropology and Biblical Tradition and Culture. Her role at the University of Portland includes serving as both an academic and spiritual advisor for students and sitting on various committeesShe is a staff member and faculty advisor for the Faith and Leadership House, an intentional living community for students who are looking to deepen their faith, live in community, participate in actions for social change and weekly Theological Reflection, and learn to be future leaders of the Church.

Sr. Kathleen’s foundational scholarship is in the theology of Dominican Friar, Edward Schillebeeckx, with a focus on the meaning of suffering. Over time, Sr. Kathleen has realized that she is in the midst of an organic process of constructing an intercontextual theology that engages Schillebeeckx’s methodology in relation to the particular suffering of women—the local suffering of women in the institutional Church, and the global suffering of women in poverty. Essential to this theology is a Christology adequate to the multiple facets of suffering in a postmodern world. In December, she participated in an international symposium on the significance of Schillebeeckx’s theology in Leuven, Belgium. Her paper, “Suffering, Resistance, and Hope: Women’s Experience of Negative Contrast and Christology,” was published in April in the journal, Tijdschrift Voor Theologie.

Sr. Luz del Carmen (Queen of the Holy Rosary), one of the women who was part of transformational meal conversations.

A number of years ago, Sr. Kathleen began doing theological studies and spiritual reflection with a small group of women in her parish in Portland.  Although devout Catholics, many of these women struggled with the role of women in the Church and society.  Over the years, this core group of women has begun to exercise leadership in the formation of additional “Circles of Women Seeking Wisdom.”

Working with these women has provided the impetus for her most recent research, which includes a paper she presented at the annual convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America entitled, “Fermenting Impasse: Women’s Critical Communities and Ecclesial Transformation.”   

She spent the last semester on sabbatical from the University engaged in research and writing.  A month in Mexico with the Queen of the Holy Rosary Dominicans enabled her to brush up on her Spanish as well as learn more about the experiences of women in Mexico.

 “The Dominican community where I lived in Mexico City served as a crossroads for sisters ministering in far-flung areas, and my greatest learnings took place as we gathered at table for meals. There I learned about the sisters’ relentless commitment to the women of Chiapas, doubly oppressed by cultural and ecclesial machismo as well as the government’s continuing persecution of the Indigenous population. I heard first-hand stories of the plight of migrants who find lodging, food, and support for their journey in respite houses that the sisters run.

And, in one-on-one conversations with a sister engaged in theological studies, I witnessed the restless passion whereby such experiences and stories as these will inevitably transform theology. Everywhere in Mexico I was confronted with the diverse presences of Our Lady of Guadalupe—a potent symbol of faith that places the poor, women, and the oppressed at the center of theological understanding.”

Sr. Kathleen looks forward to returning to Mexico to teach in the University of Portland’s summer program in Morelia in 2010. After that, she will travel to Indonesia, where she has been invited to address the Asia Pacific Justice and Peace Conference. She will develop her ongoing project of “Suffering, Resistance, and Hope” in relation to the Asian experience of poverty. “In short, the scholarly, pastoral, and global communities that I inhabit are transforming my own theological agenda.”

Currently, Kathleen is beginning work toward an essay on “Woundedness and Redemption in the Feminine Body of Christ,” which will appear in a collection of essays on Christology. Her other publications include Unbroken Communion: The Place and Meaning of Suffering in the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), as well as articles in Theological Studies and other journals.

Jennifer Schaaf
Director of Communications
Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt

For more into on Kathleen's book:

Unbroken Communion: The Place and Meaning of Suffering in the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx