The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Oblate discusses four female Doctors of the Church at Saint Mary’s

| Friday, November 3, 2023

Allison Bowman | The Observer
Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS, spoke in Madeleva Hall Thursday.

Saint Mary’s hosted artist and 2023 Marianist Award recipient Br. Mickey McGrath Thursday evening. McGrath is an oblate of St. Francis de Sales and the author and illustrator of 21 books. When he’s not writing, McGrath presents his work across the United States.

His work is mostly centered around the “healing power of art” and how practicing faith in one’s daily life draws critical conversations around contemporary religious issues, especially those which relate to women’s experiences in society and the Church. 

“A lot of what I share in my talks is difficult in terms of Church history and the complexity of the Church that we’re still feeling the damaging effects of,” McGrath said. “We can’t heal and move forward until it’s acknowledged and then forgiven, and art is a good way to do that.”

McGrath said faith is about trust in the face of current Church issues.

“The Holy Spirit does not fly backwards,” he said. “We must trust the Holy Spirit is leading us through every period of history and every age, no matter how uncomfortable it might be, sometimes we just trust. That’s what our faith is all about.”

McGrath described some of his artwork which was inspired by some of the most influential female saints. He then recited some words of wisdom from Pope Francis: “Have the courage to swim against the tide.” That’s what all the women doctors did, McGrath explained.

Not only did McGrath discuss the impact of the four women Doctors of the Church, he also displayed the stories of other significant female saints in his artwork, such as Dorothy Day, Thea Bowman, St. Mary Magdalene, Kateri Tekakwitha and many more.

Continuing with his theme of the Church evolving, McGrath shared a quote from Day.

“In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy. I never expected leadership from them. It is the saints that keep appearing all through history who keep things going,” McGrath recited.

Sophomore Isabel Gable said her biggest takeaway from the lecture was about how the Church is becoming more inclusive.

“The Church has been evolving and I think it’s interesting to see how the Church has become more inclusive and honoring more female saints and saints of color,” Gable said.

Daniel Horan, a philosophy professor and the director of the Center for the Study of Spirituality, said he was grateful for McGrath’s willingness to visit Saint Mary’s to talk about women saints and Doctors of the Church.

“The hope in all three campuses is for the students to be inspired by these great examples of Christian life and by Br. Mickey’s own integration of art and spirituality,” Horan said. “There are lots of ways to express one’s faith and to do it through art, drawing and painting. I find to be very inspirational, and I hope students do too.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About Allison Bowman

Contact Allison