Celebrated University of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins once remarked that the Catholic Church has “the longest intellectual tradition of any institution in the contemporary world.” The mission of the Lumen Christi Institute is to make that tradition a vital part of the culture of today’s university. The Lumen Christi Institute’s programs enrich academic communities at the University of Chicago, across the nation, and throughout the world with the insights of Catholic thought, in order to engage our secular culture in dialogue and ultimately to renew our civilization by forming leaders for a global society in need of Christian wisdom.
Fr. Peter Bernardi, SJ is scholar-in-residence at the Lumen Christi Institute and Associate Professor Emeritus of Theology at Loyola University of Chicago, where he taught from 2010 to 2020. Before coming to Chicago he taught at Loyola University New Orleans from 1996 to 2010. Fr. Bernardi holds an Honors B.A. in Classical Languages from Xavier University (Cincinnati), an MA in Philosophy from the University of Detroit, a Master of Divinity from Regis College of the Toronto School of Theology, an STL from the Weston School of Theology with a thesis concerning soteriology, and a PhD in Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of America.
His areas of interest include modern Christian thought; John Henry Newman, Maurice Blondel, and the Renewal of Catholic Theology; Theology of Vatican II; Christology & Soteriology. He is the author of Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism and Action Française: The Clash over the Church’s Role in Society During the Modernist Era (CUA Press, 2009). His most recent scholarly publications are "Blondel, Maurice (1861–1949)" in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Philosophers (2020), "Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J. (1846–1931): Thomist, Anti-Modernist, Integralist" in the Journal of Jesuit Studies 8 (2021): 585-616, and "Maurice Blondel's diagnosis of extrinsicist 'Monophorism': An enduring critique of Christian Integralism," in Pesando-Revista de Filosofia. Vol 13, No 30 (2022) Dossie Maurice Blondel, 100-113.
Nikolaus Esterhazy is the Summer Seminar Program Coordinator at the Lumen Christi Institute.
Please direct all questions regarding Summer Seminars to firstname.lastname@example.org
John Buchmann completed his M.T.S. at Duke Divinity School, and his PhD in religious ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School. A moral theologian working at the intersection of ethical theory, Catholic Social Thought, and economics, John also has extensive nonprofit experience, including stints as Associate Director of Collegium Institute and Executive Director of Beatrice Institute.
Marial Corona serves as the Program Coordinator for the Cultural Forum. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Navarra and a Licentiate in Religious Studies from the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum. Marial’s research has focused on the intersections between the philosophy of John Henry Newman and American pragmatism, particularly the line developed by Charles Sanders Peirce. Her efforts have resulted in the book The Philosophy of John Henry Newman and Pragmatism: A Comparison, published by CUA Press in 2023. Before joining Lumen Christi, she taught graduate and non-credit courses in several institutions within the Archdiocese of Chicago. She also worked for five years organizing and leading local and international mission trips for young adults. While mission work has allowed her to see the beauty of Christ in countless faces, sharing the truths of our faith is her passion.
A Wisconsin native, Susan attended Carthage College, graduating summa cum laude with a BA from Carthage College in Religion, and Criminal Justice with a pre-Law Concentration, and was the recipient of the distinguished Adult Learner Award, 2016. She has an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Susan has been an adjunct instructor in the Religion and Intellectual Foundations departments at Carthage. Her areas of interest include theories of religion, religion in modernity, liberation theology, and the history of Christianity.
Born and raised in Oregon, Michael moved to Chicago after a year of teaching in a high school in Nantes, France and a year of independent research on the topic of inculturation theology in various countries across Africa on a Watson Fellowship. He received a B.A. in Religious Studies and French from Willamette University. He came to the University of Chicago in 2008 for his a M.Div. and first became acquainted with the Lumen Christi Institute through its non-credit course. In 2011 he started a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School, graduating in 2019, having written a dissertation entitled “The Stain of Association and the Burden of Membership: Institutional Ethics in Paul Ricoeur and Catholic Social Thought.”
Michael has co-edited a volume on former Lumen Christi Board Member, public scholar, and professor of ethics, Jean Bethke Elshtain, entitled Jean Bethke Elshtain: Politics, Ethics, and Society (Notre Dame, 2018), and has a chapter on Ricoeur’s institutional Ethics and Higher Education in Paul Ricoeur and the Hope of Higher Education: The Just University (Lexington, 2021). Michael has also taught courses in the humanities and in Christian Ethics at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Loyola University of Chicago. In 2017, he was awarded a competitive prize for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Michael first started working at the Lumen Christi Institute in 2012 as a program coordinator for our Catholic Social Thought Programming, planning annual conferences in Economics and Catholic Social Thought and coordinating lectures, symposia, and summer seminars. He has taught courses in Business, Ethics, and Society at DePaul University and in Catholic Social Thought at Loyola University Chicago. He became Assistant Director in 2017, and was co-project leader of the John F. Templeton Foundation funded Lumen Christi Institute project “Science and Religion, the Dialogue of Cultures.”
In 2019, Michael became Associate Director, collaborating with Executive Director Thomas Levergood to develop and implement programs (including conferences, symposia, lectures, masterclasses, summer seminars, and webinars) in topics across the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. He has spearheaded programs in Hispanic Theology, Black Catholic programming, and Science and Religion. He has helped to oversee operations, communications, marketing, and day-to-day supervision of staff to ensure successful execution of programs and events. He has developed, facilitated, and maintained strategic relationships with peer institutes, campus departments and centers, regional partners, and national institutions. Most recently, he has helped lead our pivot to online programming.
Between May of 2021 and August of 2022, Michael was elected by the Board of Directors as Acting Executive Director of the Lumen Christi Institute.
Michael is passionate about the mission of the Lumen Christi Institute to make the Catholic intellectual tradition, in its depth and breadth, a living dialogue partner at the university, in the city, and across the nation. He is married and has two young kids.
Peter Tierney is In Lumine Project Co-Director and Director of Data Initiatives at the Lumen Christi Institute. He received his doctorate in Geophysical Sciences from the University of Chicago in 2018. His research is on the evolutionary ecology of reef systems, with a particular focus on Early to Middle Paleozoic reefs of North America.
Daniel Wasserman-Soler serves as the Executive Director of the Lumen Christi Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago. He first became acquainted with Lumen Christi as an undergraduate.
As a Fulbright scholar in Spain, he conducted research on the Spanish Empire during the sixteenth-century. His book, Truth in Many Tongues: Religious Conversion and the Languages of the Early Spanish Empire (Penn State, 2020), explores how the Spanish Crown managed an empire of unprecedented linguistic diversity. He also has published articles in the Journal of Early Modern History, Church History, the Medieval History Journal, and History Compass. A native Spanish speaker, he grew up in Miami, where he attended Carmelite and Salesian schools. His wife and five children are members of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago.
Before joining Lumen Christi, Danny was a history professor for ten years, first at Oberlin College and then at Alma College, where he was a tenured associate professor of history, department chair, and director of the first-year seminar program.
Kenneth L. Woodward received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, where he studied literature with the legendary Frank O’Malley. He edited Newsweek’s Religion section from 1964 until his retirement in 2002, which gave him a unique vantage point on and personal acquaintance with the world’s religious leaders. He is the author of Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint and The Book of Miracles: The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. In 2006, the University of Notre Dame gave him its Rev. Robert F. Griffin Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in writing. His most recent publication is entitled Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.
Austin Walker is Associate Director of the Lumen Christi Institute and a Scholar-in-Residence. In directing LCI's University Program, he oversees the presentation of the Church's intellectual tradition on the University of Chicago campus. In directing its Cultural Forum, he supervises the articulation of the Church's mind on questions of the day for a lay Catholic audience. He also leads LCI's Executive Great Books seminar series and serves as an instructor at the University of Chicago's Graham School Basic Program of Liberal Education. In 2022, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago's prestigious Committee on Social Thought, where he wrote on John Henry Newman's political philosophy. He holds M.A.'s from the University of Chicago and the University of Mississippi. He received a B.A. with highest honors in Classical Languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 2007 to 2011, he taught in the Mississippi Delta for the Mississippi Teacher Corps, where he received the Andrew P. Mullins Jr. Award in 2009. He and his wife have two young children, and are expecting a third in early 2024.
The Lumen Christi Institute is honored to call home the James J. Gavin, Jr. House. Built in a 1920’s French Renaissance style and acquired in 2011, Gavin House is located across from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and adjacent to the Frederick C. Robie House, an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Gavin House hosts the Institute’s offices and serves as a venue for small lectures, seminars, dinners, and receptions. Most importantly, the building acts as an anchor for the Institute and a symbol of its commitment to bringing Catholic thought to students and faculty at one of the world’s leading universities. We are grateful to our donors and benefactors—especially the Gavin family—for providing us with such a wonderful home.
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