Catholics & Cultures

The Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Cultures is launching an ambitious scholarly initiative on Catholics and Cultures, understanding the religious lives and practices of Catholics worldwide.


Catholics and CulturesCatholics and Cultures will draw scholars from around the world to explore how Catholic practices, beliefs, trends, and ethical concerns are manifest in very different cultural settings. As part of its program offerings, the initiative will offer web-based resources, scholarly conversations, international conferences, and publications, including a scholarly e-journal. It will also sponsor postgraduate or visiting fellows who will develop their scholarship at Holy Cross, offer a wide array of new courses to students, and create summer immersion and research opportunities for students in church settings worldwide.

No other program with this scope currently exists, giving Holy Cross the opportunity to take the lead in the scholarly study of Catholic life and practice around the world.


Past Program Highlights

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Catholics & Cultures: Launch of a Global Online Resource — This preview event and reception will celebrate the official launch of the Catholics & Cultures website with viewing stations, Catholics & Cultures scholars, and refreshments. Thomas M. Landy, director of the McFarland Center, College President Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J. and Vice President and Dean Margaret N. Freije will offer brief remarks at 4:45 p.m.
4:30 p.m., Hogan Ballroom

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
The Camino Experience: Making the Way — 2014 Artist-in-Residence Cristina Pato returns to present a work-in-progress inspired by the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and her Galician roots. Making the Way brings together the College Choir (dir. David Harris), Theatre Department faculty and students, and the Cantor Art Gallery in a spiritual journey guided by the stories of local pilgrims who have walked the Camino. Presented by Arts Transcending Borders and co-sponsored with Catholics & Cultures, an initiative of the McFarland Center, and the Cantor Art Gallery.
7 p.m., Mary Chapel

Catholic Cultures, Indian Cultures
A workshop on rites, religiosity, and cultural diversity in Indian Catholicism
Monday, January 12, 2015 to Thursday, January 15, 2015
Bangalore, India


India is a multicultural society and home to three rites (Roman, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara) within the Catholic Church.  This unique combination has created a particularly rich and diverse context for Catholic religious life. This workshop will examine how Catholic life is practiced in India’s different cultural and Catholic contexts.



The intent of the workshop is to move away from the often contentious jurisdictional issues surrounding the rites and instead focus on the perspectives gained from considering the lived experience of ordinary Catholics. There will be plenary and panel sessions, along with break out groups for more informal discussion.  Presentations will be recorded and posted on the Catholics and Cultures website.  Participants will also be invited to revise their presentation for inclusion in the Journal of Global Catholicism or Asian Horizons. Sponsored by Dharmaram Vidhya Ksetram and the College of the Holy Cross.


Students create colorful sand carpets in Latin American tradition to herald Holy Week at Holy Cross

Interpreting a Catholic tradition popular in Latin America, art students at Holy Cross created a carpet of colored sand leading to the steps of the St. Joseph Memorial Chapel for Palm Sunday. Their intricate designs feature "creatures with wings" — angels, insects, a phoenix, dove and other birds, along with crosses and abstract patterns. Learn more and view photos of the project.



Our Lady of the Good Death: Afro-Catholicism in Brazilian Cultural Heritage - Stephen Selka, associate professor in American studies and in religious studies at Indiana University, talks about the Sisterhood of Our Lady of the Good Death (Boa Morte) in Bahia, Brazil, and their week-long Feast of the Assumption. The festival is a blend of Catholicism and Condomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion, that has become part of the heritage tourism of the African diaspora. October 23, 2013

Watch the video: Stream Online» | Free iTunes Download»

Anya Peterson Royce

Journeys of Transformation: Isthmus Zapotec beliefs and rituals surrounding death, healing and pilgrimage - Anya Peterson Royce, Chancellor's professor of anthropology and comparative literature at Indiana University, is author of "Becoming an Ancestor: The Isthmus Zapotec Way of Death" (SUNY Press, 2011), which looks at the intricate blending of Catholicism and indigenous spiritual tradition in the death rituals of Zapotecs in southern Mexico.

Watch the video: Stream Online» | Free iTunes Download»


Rev. Paul Mariani, S.J.Living in China's Highly Politicized Church Today - Rev. Paul Mariani, S.J., assistant professor of history at Santa Clara University, talks about religious policy and conflict in the People's Republic of China since 1950 and how Catholics in China understand their faith today. He is author of "Church Militant: Bishop Kung and Catholic Resistance in Communist Shanghai" (Harvard University Press, 2011).

Watch the video: Stream Online» | Free iTunes Download»



Mathew SchmalzIs this what a Catholic feminist looks like?
Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies and director of the College Honors program at Holy Cross, writes for the Washington Post blog On Faith. In this post, he offers readers a global perspective on what it means to be Catholic and a feminist.
Read now»


The Contours of Catholic Life and Practice Today: Challenges and opportunities in the study of global Catholicism

December 9, 2011


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Thomas M. LandyWelcome and Introduction:
A Vision for the Study of Catholicism Around the Globe

Thomas M. Landy, Director, Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, College of the Holy Cross

Watch the video: Stream Online» | Free iTunes Download »


Rowena RobinsonThrough the Looking Glass: Indian Catholicism observed
Rowena Robinson, Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
Respondent: Mathew Schmalz, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross

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Robert OrsiReal Presences and the Study of Lived Religion
Robert Orsi, Professor of Religion and the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies, Northwestern University
Respondent: Justin Poché, Alexander F. Carson Faculty Fellow in the History of the United States and Assistant Professor of History, College of the Holy Cross

Note: At the speaker's request, this session was not recorded.


Student Panel
Holy Cross students including Andrew DeVivo '12, Brendan Kennedy '12, Andrea Koris '12, Amanda Marello '12, Michael Rogers '12 and Diego Terrero '12 will share their immersion and study abroad experiences in Catholic cultures around the globe and will describe how their experiences and observations have helped to shape their Holy Cross education.

Watch the video: Stream Online» | Free iTunes Download »


Rev. Thomas G. CaseyReimagining Catholic Theology in the Light of Catholic Belief and Practice Worldwide
Rev. Thomas Casey, S.J., Dean of the Faculty of Missiology, Gregorian University, Rome
Respondent: Joanne M. Pierce, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross

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Read more about the distinguished guest speakers»


Click on thumbnails below to view photos from the Colloquium.