CCSTA Conference Keynote Speaker set to discuss Vatican II and the New Evangelization
Sr. Maureen Sullivan truly values the role education plays in each person’s life.
As a Dominican Sister of Hope, she follows the teachings of St. Dominic who, during his time in the 13th century when a serious heresy prevailed, believed that the way to address false teachings was not through force or an authoritarian command. Rather, he believed the way to bring someone to the fullness of truth was by making an intelligent case, an argument that a rational person could clearly comprehend. So, from the very beginning the approach to truth was grounded in a sound theological education/foundation.
Three mottos reflect the heart of what it means to be a Dominican: ‘truth’, ‘to praise, to bless and to preach’, and ‘to contemplate and to share with others the fruit of one’s contemplation’.
Sr. Maureen entered her order in 1965 and has followed St. Dominic’s example and these three mottos, particularly the third piece.
“The third one is especially important when it comes to the area of evangelization,” she explains. “There is the saying that ‘we cannot give what we do not have’ and it does apply here. Before I can even begin to share the Gospel with other people, I must have contemplated it myself…I must know the story, love the story and live the story. That is the only way that I can be a legitimate, authentic witness today.”
Sr. Maureen received her MA in Theology from Manhattan College in the Bronx in 1979 and completed her Ph.D. in Theology from Fordham University six years later. She has taught Theology at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire for nearly 25 years and her course list includes The Church, Approaches to God, and Vatican II.
“I love what I do. It is an incredible privilege to help to prepare the church of the 21st century,” she recently told CCSTA. “I want my students to go out knowing the truth of the faith, understanding it, and aware of ways that they can live out their lives as members of our church.”
Importance of Catholic Education
Sr. Maureen says that in a world that is so hungry for meaning and truth, we need to restore the possibility of faith and hope. She’s convinced Catholic education can play a critical role in that restoration and the ‘new evangelization’ is central to this task.
“But we need to take seriously the theological formation of teachers in Catholic schools,” she explains. “I speak at so many conferences and these have been opportunities for me to speak to Catholic school teachers informally outside of my formal presentations. So often they tell me that they do not feel sufficiently grounded in the faith. So preparing our teachers to pass on this incredible story – the Christian Gospel – should be a priority for us in the field of Catholic education.”
That’s exactly what she hopes to help do when she arrives in Ottawa next month.
Keynote Address: Vatican II
Sr. Maureen will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Catholic Education: A National Conversation conference. Hosted by CCSTA, the conference theme is “Witness to Hope”; a concept that is close to Sr. Maureen’s heart.
“I hope the conference attendees come away from my presentations enthusiastic, excited about what it means to have the privilege to pass on the faith to a new generation,” she explains.
Sr. Maureen will discuss Vatican II and how it relates to the New Evangelization.
“Vatican II is at the heart of my theological research and that Council had a direct influence on my life,” she says. “My presentations will look at Vatican II, what it said about evangelization and how we might – on a practical level – live those teachings today. Pope John XXIII who convened the Council believed that it could be a ‘new Pentecost’ for our church. One element of this ‘new Pentecost’ is the belief that we who teach must find a way to present the Gospel in a way that new generations can understand. We must find a language that gives life and a way to demonstrate that the Christian Gospel is truly a message of hope.”