Vanderhaar Symposium Speakers

The Vanderhaar Symposium was founded in honor of Dr. Vanderhaar who spent his lifetime promoting peace through active nonviolence. The symposium seeks to continue his legacy by bringing to Memphis a noted scholar or peace activist each year  to address social and moral issues related to peace and justice and/or Catholic social teaching. Biographical information presented below is taken from the printed symposium programs.


Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz
Professor Emerita of Christian Social Ethics and Theology
Drew University Theological School

March 15, 2012
Compassion and Solidarity:
Struggling for Justice, Building Peace

A native of La Habana Cuba, Dr. Isasi-Diaz received her early education from the nuns of the Order of St. Ursula, where she developed a concern for the poor and oppressed. She became a political refugee in the US in 1960, entered a convent and earned a B.A. in European History from The College of New Rochelle in New York. In 1967 she began work as a missionary in Lima, Peru, an experience she says marked her for life.
After teaching high school in Louisiana and Spain, she became enthralled with the women's movement during the 1970s, focusing on oppression in churches, religion and theology and in the interconnection of sexism, ethnic prejudice-racism, and economic oppression-classism.
Dr. Isasi-Diaz received a Master of Divinity Degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and later completed a Ph.D. with a concentration in Christian Ethics. She describes herself as an activist-theologian and writes extensively on Mujerista Theology, a feminist theological movement developed from the perspective of Latinas in the USA

Patrick J. Ryan

Rev. Patrick Ryan, SJ
Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, Fordham University
March 15, 2011
Peacemakers: Jewish, Christian & Muslim

A Jesuit and native of New York City, Father Ryan has held his current position at Fordham since 2009. Previously he was Fordham's Vice President for University Mission and Ministry (2005-2009). In 1964 he began a long career as a teacher and academic administrator in West Africa, where he has spent 26 years. After ordination in 1968, he completed a doctorate at Harvard University in the comparative history of religion, specializing in Arabic and Islamic studies. For 15 years he taught in this area in Ghanaian universities. He also taught for briefer periods at Fordham and at the Gregorian University in Rome. From 1999-2005 he was the first President of Loyola Jesuit College, a high school in Nigeria's federal capital, Abuja.
Upon assuming his new post as The Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society in 2009, Fr. Ryan's work has focused on fostering dialogue between and among Jewish, Islamic and Christian scholars. He is the author of three books and numerous articles, some most recently appearing in America and Commonweal publications.

Joan Chittister

Joan Chittister, OSB
Co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women
April 15, 2010
Women, War and Peacemaking

Joan Chittister, OSB, is an internationally acclaimed writer and lecturer who has held positions of religious leadership among women in the Catholic Church for over 30 years, including serving 12 years as prioress of her Benedictine community In Erie, PA. She holds a doctorate from Penn State University, as well as 12 honorary doctorates. In the past decade alone she received the Award of Excellence from the Religion Communicators Council, the National Indie Excellence Book Award, the Hans Kung Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State University.
Sister Joan was named a Top Spiritual Leader of 2009 by the White Wing Report, and has been recognized by the Notre Dame Alumni Association with the Women's Award of Achievement, plus an award for Furthering the Cause of Women in the Church from U.S. Catholic Magazine. She has been sought out as a guest commentator and panelist for NBC, PBS and the BBC, and writes a regular column, "From Where I Stand," in the National Catholic Reporter.
Last year Sister Joan participated in the Parliament of the World's Religions, Melbourne, Australia; Women, Faith and Development Summit to End Global Poverty also in Melbourne; the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, International; and served on the TED prize-sponsored Council of Sages Ð an interfaith group working on developing a Charter for Compassion to be shared worldwide with all faith organizations.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
March 19, 2009
Reason for Hope

Dr. Jane Goodall travels more than 300 days per year, inspiring audiences with fascinating stories about her pioneering work with chimpanzees; information about the education, conservation and development programs of the Jane Goodall Institute; and her reasons for hope that we can save threatened species, the planet and ultimately ourselves.
Dr. Goodall’s lecture is an unforgettable experience. She transports audiences to Africa with stories of the chimpanzees she has known and who are still observed today at the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. She emphasizes the importance of the Jane Goodall Institute’s innovative community-centered conservation projects in Africa and the global Roots & Shoots environmental and humanitarian youth network, which engages young people from preschool to college as they take positive action in their communities and beyond.
A UN Messenger of Peace, Dr. Goodall also discusses why she is still hopeful about the future, and encourages her audiences to recognize their ability to effect change. Her frequent reminder: “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”

Bryan Massingale

Bryan Massingale
Associate Professor of Theology, Marquette University
April 10, 2008
Dr. Martin Luther King's Vision & Practice:
His Legacy, Present Struggles and Future Hopes

An Associate Professor at Marquette University, Rev. Massingale is a Catholic moral theologian with a focus on liberation theologies and African American religious ethics. A prolific writer, he has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and book reviews for publications such as Theological Studies, New Theology Review, Philosophy and Theology, Origins, U.S. Catholic, and Catholic Peace Voice. Recent work applies Catholic social thought to the issues of affirmative action, racial reconciliation, terrorism and the challenge of peacemaking. He has also authored an award-winning column for the Catholic Press examining contemporary social issues from a faith perspective.
Fr. Massingale was also the writer of a document published recently for Catholic Charities USA – Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good. He is on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America and a consultant to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Jeanette Rodriguez

Dr. Jeanette Rodriguez
Chair, Department of Theology, Seattle University
March 29, 2007
Welcoming the Stranger:
The Promise and the Challenge

Dr. Jeanette Rodriguez, department chair of theology and religious studies at Seattle University, also serves as the vice chair of the National Council of Pax Christi, USA. An outstanding Hispanic/Latina Liberation theologian, she holds three advanced degrees including a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Unioin in Berkeley, California. A prolific writer and tireless advocate for marginalized people, she spreads her message of peace through nonviolence.

Thomas Gumbleton

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Auxilary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit:
Founding President of Pax Christi, USA

March 30, 2006
A Spirituality of Peacemaking
in a Time of Terror

Bishop Gumbleton is a long-time peace and justice activist. Like Dr. Vanderhaar, Bishop Gumbleton has a long history with Pax Christi, the International Catholic Peace Movement. He was a founding President of Pax Christi USA.
Both he and Dr. Vanderhaar were Pax Christi Ambassadors of Peace. As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served on the committee that produce the influential peace pastoral letter "The Challenge of Peace" (1983).
He has traveled widely in the cause of peace and justice, including to Iraq as part of a Voices in the Wilderness delegation, to Columbia with the Columbia Support Network, Afghanistan with the Global Exchange Delegation with Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. He has participated in civil disobedience, fasts, and vigils for a variety of peace and justice causes. He has served as a Bishop since 1968, and continues to pastor in inner city Detroit at St. Leo Church. In word and deed Bishop Gumbleton has acted for peace with justice.