On February 25, Dr. Aaron Hollander delivered the XXXIX Paul Wattson Lecture at the University of San Francisco. “The Courage to Hearken: Ecumenism and the Underside of Modernity” was the theme of this annual talk sponsored by the Friars, honoring the legacy of Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, Servant of God.

The lecture invited participants to consider the legacy of the World Council of Churches’ vision of “justice, peace, and the integrity of creation” in order to explore how theologians and religious leaders in positions of power and privilege might not only engage challenges from marginalized voices but be converted, exorcised, and reconstituted by them.

The Paul Wattson Christian Unity Lectures honor the memory of the Servant of God Fr. Paul of Graymoor (Reverend Paul James Francis Wattson, S.A.,1863-1940), founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and pioneer for the cause of Christian Unity. These annual lectures feature national and international leaders in the fields of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue who speak on current topics of interest. Initiated in 1974 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, the series was expanded in 1980 to the University of San Francisco; then, in 1995 to the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax; and in 1996 to the Toronto School of Theology in Toronto. In 1998, it was added to the ministry of the Friars at their Centro Pro Unione in Rome honoring not only Father Paul, but also Mother Lurana White, S.A., founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. In 2017, the first Paul Wattson Lecture in Chicago took place at the Catholic Theological Union.

The University of San Francisco is a Catholic institute of higher education founded by the Jesuits in 1855. USFCA enrolls approximately 11,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate academic degree programs. The University’s Theology faculty has academic expertise in both Catholic and Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and in several Social Sciences that explore the human experience of the Divine. The Friars have chosen to share sponsorship of this prestigious annual lecture program with USF because of their innovative and ecumenical reputation.

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