Virtual Sister Mary Schmidt Lecture Series
We Cannot Quarantine Compassion
Catherine O’Donnell, author of Elizabeth Seton: American Saint
Catherine O’Donnell, will present “We Cannot Quarantine Compassion” at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, 2021. The virtual lecture is free and open to the public.
Drawing on a digital archive of COVID-19 that she and her colleagues created, Catherine will reflect on social justice teachings and discuss ways that Elizabeth Seton’s life offers a guide for useful and compassionate approaches to helping ourselves and others cope with the pandemic. The lecture will offer engaging visuals and examples of people listening to and being present with each other in a way that embodies Elizabeth Seton’s ethos for listening. Her ability to listen gave rise to Elizabeth’s vision of “living in charity with all,” rather than imagining herself as bestowing charity upon a lesser. Catherine will guide the audience in exploring Elizabeth’s legacy of listening in order to cultivate understanding and compassion that are necessary to underlie and empower social justice activity.
Catherine O’Donnell is Professor of History at Arizona State University, a public university that measures itself “not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes.” That mission has defined Catherine’s work in higher education. A faculty head and an undergraduate director, Catherine participates in initiatives designed to broaden access to an education in the humanities and to improve first generation college students’ chances of success. In addition to her roles as instructor and mentor to graduate and undergraduate students, Catherine is a member of numerous professional organizations and was recently elected to the Executive Council of the American Catholic Historical Association.
Elizabeth Seton: American Saint (Cornell University Press, 2018) is the most recent of two books that Catherine has written. It was awarded the Distinguished Book Award by the Conference on the History of Women Religious, for books published from 2016-2018, as well as the Biography Prize from the Catholic Press Association. Catherine is also the author of Men of Letters in the Early Republic (Chapel Hill, 2008) and various articles appearing in venues that include the William and Mary Quarterly, The Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Literature, and The US Catholic Historian.
The Sister Mary Schmidt Lecture Series is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and Seton Hill University in order to support the Catholic identity of Seton Hill University; engage the Sisters of Charity and Seton Hill University in learning and dialogue on timely topics of social and environmental justice with global impact; and develop an understanding of Catholic Social Teachings and how they pertain to this dialogue.
Sister Mary Schmidt, SC, served as president of Seton Hill from 1971 through 1977. She also taught in the English Department at the University for more than 20 years and served as executive vice president and the director of Alumnae Relations.