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Cushwa Center celebrates 30 years

Anthony Iannamorelli | Friday, September 9, 2005

In honor of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism’s 30th anniversary this weekend, Associate Director Kathleen Sprows Cummings is opening the Center’s doors for a public celebration.

“You don’t need to know exactly what the Cushwa Center is to attend,” Cummings said.

The main events of the weekend-long anniversary commemoration are a lecture Friday at 4 p.m. in the Eck Notre Dame Visitors Center’s Auditorium and a seminar Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. at the McKenna Hall Center for Continuing Education.

Friday’s lecture, entitled “Catholics and the Intellectual Life in Late 20th-Century America,” marks the 50th anniversary of an article published in 1955 by Monsignor John Tracy Ellis. The article was a “lament on the abscess of Catholics in intellectual life,” a topic that hits very close to home in the Notre Dame community, Cummings said.

The seminar on Saturday will examine Leslie Woodcock Tentler’s work “An American History: Catholics and Contraception,” sixth out of seven works in a comprehensive study on the effect Catholics had on this aspect of American history up until 1968.

The Center, which received its name from a large endowment by the Cushwa family six years after its inception, sponsors about eight events per year and publishes a newsletter each semester. Cummings coordinates the events and edits the publication, which documents happenings in the field of religious history and has more than 1,800 subscribers.

Cummings said she and Director Tim Matovina are attempting to build bridges between the Center and different departments, as all prior Directors and Associate Directors for the Center were professors from Notre Dame’s history department. While Cummings is an associate professor in the history department, she is also very active in gender studies. Matovina is an associate professor in the theology department and is active in Latino studies. The Center hopes to begin to incorporate many interests into its purpose.

The two scheduled talks are prime examples of what the Center is about, Cummings said.

“We are not studying what the Catholic Church has to say about certain events, but rather, the effect Catholics and the Church have had on history,” she said.