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    Undergraduate Commencement Speaker Announced

    Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D. ’93, ’G93, the director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, will be the principal speaker at The University of Scranton’s undergraduate commencement on Sunday, May 26, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre.
    May 1, 2019

    The University of Scranton announced that Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D. ’93, ’G93, the director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, will be the principal speaker at its undergraduate commencement on Sunday, May 26. She will also receive an honorary degree from the University at the ceremony.

    “We are proud to be able to call Dr. Cummings one of the University’s own – and one of our best. She has dedicated her life to the scholarly inquiry of many of the influences that have shaped the historical legacy of the American Catholic Church and, in doing so, has continually called upon the Church, in a loving, caring manner, to do better,” said Rev. Scott. R. Pilarz, S.J., president of the University. “She will no doubt have an inspired message for our graduates as well.”

    As director of the William and Anna Jean Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame, Dr. Cummings leads research projects, seminars, conferences and publications with the nation’s top scholars as they explore Catholicism’s role in United States history. Her books include the recently published “A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American,” “New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era,” which won three 2009 Catholic Press Association Awards, and “Citizen Saints: Catholics and Canonization in American Culture.” Her research for the books has taken her to Rome several times, where she worked in the Vatican Secret Archives and in other religious archives in the city.

    An expert on gender in Catholicism, Dr. Cummings is often a guest on CNN and NBC and has been a source for articles in the New York Daily News, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Boston Globe. She has served as a media commentator on contemporary events in the Church, including NBC’s live coverage of the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, and Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States.

    Dr. Cummings has also written several opinion pieces for The New York Times, including one reacting to the public release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Commonwealth. Father Pilarz referred to that piece as a “masterful opinion article” that “captured so well what I and so many other Catholics were feeling in that moment,” and said that column was among the inspirations for the University’s formation of the Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation and Hope.

    A full-tuition Presidential Scholar when a student at Scranton, Dr. Cummings graduated, magna cum laude, in 1993, earning bachelor’s degrees in both history and philosophy as a member of the University’s Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Program, as well as a master’s degree in history. She went on to earn a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

    Dr. Cummings received the University’s Frank J. O’Hara Distinguished Alumni Award for religion and spirituality in 2013 and, earlier this year, received the University’s Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Award for Distinguished Contributions to Ignatian Mission and Ministry Award. The citation of Dr. Cumming’s Arrupe Award reads in part: “Dr. Cummings has dedicated her life to deepening our understanding of what it means to be Catholic and has provided us with an example of how to live up to our responsibility as a Catholic university dedicated to the pursuit of faith and justice and the search for truth.”

    The University of Scranton’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, on Sunday, May 26, at noon

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