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Discussion honors deceased thinkers

Alicia Smith | Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Members of the Saint Mary’s College community gathered Tuesday to remember three great thinkers who died within almost one month of each other this time last year.

The memorial honored Edward Schillebeeckx, who died Dec. 23, 2009, Mary Daly, who died Jan. 3, 2010 and Howard Zinn, who died Jan. 27, 2010.

Sr. Kathleen Dolphin, director of the Center for Spirituality, spoke about Schillebeeckx, a Dominican priest who worked to reshape theology.

“Dominicans were very influential in recasting theology in newer ways of thinking,” Dolphin said.

Dolphin said she decided to study Schillebeeckx’s works while she worked to complete her doctorate at the University of Chicago.

“I knew with great clarity that I wanted to study Edward Schillebeeckx,” she said.

Dolphin said she worked with his sermons and had the opportunity to study directly with Schillebeeckx.

“He was so personable and so helpful,” she said.

Religious studies professor Stacy Davis spoke about Mary Daly, a feminist who worked to empower women.

Daly was extremely well educated and earned three PhDs, Davis said.

“Daly is probably the best example of what an educated woman is capable of,” Davis said.

Davis described Daly as a “radical feminist.”

“The only way you can really exist is just to be free,” Davis said. “What she wanted for everybody was to exist free from patriarchy, free from oppression.”

Davis said Daly left the Church because of its patriarchal structure.

“Her argument was you should not waste your time banging your head against a wall,” Davis said. “She was not persuaded that Christian institutions would do the right thing on their own.”

Davis said Daly was ahead of her time and directed many of her efforts toward creating equality for women.

“To be a radical feminist is to choose life, both for women and men,” Davis said.

Professor Jan Pilarski, director of the College’s Justice Education Department, spoke about Howard Zinn, and showed a short video based of off Zinn’s memoir.

Pilarksi discussed how Zinn took life experiences and reflected on them in order to shape his lifestyle.

Pilarksi said Zinn was a professor and worked to teach his students how to make changes.

According to Pilarski, Zinn made modifications that were incremental to help his students question what was going on within society during the time of the Civil Rights Movement.

“As young people, as scholars, as other faculty got involved, [they noticed] that they weren’t allowed to use the public libraries,” Pilarksi said.

Pilarski said Zinn helped educate others about social issues so they could bring change to society.

“They really reversed at least one institution and changed it so that the students and the faculty who were engaged in that struggle really kind of uprooted and transformed the institution and the community,” Pilarski said.