The Contemporary Church and Its Evolving Mission

Pope Francis is challenging us to enter a new era in the Church, acting and writing in unprecedented ways. His commitment to the environment is one that invites us to look at not only carbon emissions, but how we have constructed the modern world. This course will offer a close reading of Francis' book on the environment, Laudato Si, focusing on issues of environment, land, colonialism, indigeneity, and economics. We will explore the history of colonialism and Christianity, the dislocation of peoples, and disassociation from the land. Students with an interest in a wide variety of topics---from science to economics, from politics to spirituality---will love this discussion-based seminar. We will talk and work with farmers, Potowanami Indians, and social visionaries about how our future must look very different from our present. 

Academic Directors


Dr. Steven Battin earned his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Systematic Theology from Notre Dame. His research explores the ways psychological processes, cultural traditions, and social contexts have contributed to different understandings of the Church throughout history. Committed to the philosophy that the art of teaching and the art of learning must aim at nothing less than the cultivation of well-integrated human persons, Dr. Battin sees theological studies as an indispensable discipline in the students’ self-cultivation of personal and communal wholeness. During the last few years as a Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Battin has taught the introductory course “Foundations of Theology” and a second-level theology developmental course entitled “The Church and Empire.”

Sheila McCarthy i

Sheila McCarthy holds a PhD from Notre Dame in Liturgical Studies and a Master's degree from Duke University. She currently teaches theology and literature courses at Holy Cross and Notre Dame. An avid beekeeper, Sheila promotes urban farming and animal husbandry, currently working to get goats legalized within city limits of South Bend.