Religious Studies Faculty Publications

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Book Chapter

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God Has Begun a Great Work in Us: Embodied Love in Consecrated Life and Ecclesial Movements


The College Theology Society (CTS), initially called the Society of Catholic College Teachers of Sacred Doctrine, was founded mainly by religious and clergy in the early 1950s to support those who taught college-level theology to Catholics in non-seminary settings. Sometimes CTS, in comparison with another group, is said to be relatively more lay-oriented. What this actually means, I think, is that for the CTS, the college classroom, populated mainly by lay people, was the primary locus for carrying out the task of teaching theology.

The main goal was to promote the religious formation of Catholic lay people. Given some of the initial statements of purpose, it is not too much of a stretch to say that CTS was founded to support the apostolate of the laity in their mission to transform the world. Religious orders have had a direct and formative influence in my life. My own Catholic education came from a mixture of clergy, religious, and lay people. Over time I have been taught by Sisters of St. Joseph, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, and Christian Brothers.

I have taught for thirty years at the University of Dayton, which was founded by the Marianists and is imbued with their charism. I once took a month-long sabbatical at the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, where I ate and prayed with Benedictine Sisters several times a day.

For this essay I have been given an assignment, one that came directly from a religious sister. It is deep in my psyche that I pay special attention to what sister had to say. I have been asked to do several things:

  1. To focus on the New Ecclesial Movements, particularly in regard to their relationship to consecrated communities;
  2. To speak as a lay theologian who specializes in ecclesiology.
  3. To reference works by Brendan Leahy and by Julian Porteous.
  4. Not to focus on any one Ecclesial Movement, but rather to discuss the connections between consecrated communities and New Ecclesial Communities overall.

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This chapter was made available for download with the permission of the College Theology Society. The book, an annual publication of the society, is available from the publisher's website:

Permission documentation is on file.

Full citation: God Has Begun a Great Work in Us: Embodied Love in Consecrated Life and Ecclesial Movements (The Annual Publication of the College Theology Society), Vol. 60 (2014). Jason King and Shannon Schrein, O.S.F., Eds. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.


Orbis Books



Place of Publication

Maryknoll, NY

Peer Reviewed