"Where Two Or Three Are Gathered" :

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Religious Studies


Department of Religious Studies


Vincent Jude Miller


I argue that Catholic social activism needs a theological reflection that centers on the use of symbols to promote social action. Using social movement theory, we can examine the role that ecclesiology, theological developments, and sacramental practice have played in guiding Catholic social action. Contrary to the common interpretation that social movements enact Catholic social teaching, I argue that by analyzing the use of religious symbols within social movements, we can see how movements adapt, develop, and enrich established doctrines and theologies. Ultimately, we will better understand the aims, purposes, and challenges of Catholic social activists. Moreover, we can re-narrate the broader theological history of U.S. Catholic social activism through the lens of these activists.


Theology, Social Movements, Symbols, Social Movement Theory, Laity, Catholic Worker, Young Christian Workers, United Farm Workers, Catonsville Nine, Vatican II

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