Center for Spirituality | Saint Mary's College, IN |


Dr. Carolyn Woo

President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services

Keynote Address: “Working for a Better World: God, Neighbor, Self”

Dr. Carolyn Woo has served as CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) since January 2012. Founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe, CRS now reaches more than 100 million people in nearly 100 countries on five continents.

Dr. Woo, representing CRS, was featured in Foreign Policy (May/June 2013) as one of the 500 Most Powerful people on the planet and one of only 33 in the category of “a force for good.” Her monthly column for Catholic News Service took first place in the 2013 Catholic Press Association Awards in the category of Best Regular Column – Spiritual Life. She recently published Working for a Better World (Our Sunday Visitor, 2015).

Before leading Catholic Relief Services, Dr. Woo served as dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame from 1997. During her tenure, the Mendoza College achieved No. 1 ranking (BusinessWeek/Bloomberg) in 2010 and 2011. Prior to her work at the University of Notre Dame, she served as Associate Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Purdue University.

Dr. Woo earned her bachelor’s degree in economics, Master of Science degree in industrial administration and PhD, all from Purdue University.

She is married to David E. Bartkus and they have two sons.


Dr. Kathleen Sprows Cummings

William W. and Anna Jean Cushwa Director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame
Associate Professor of American Studies and History, University of Notre Dame

Keynote Address: "Catholic Women and Leadership: Witness from the Past, Wisdom for the Future"

Dr. Kathleen Sprows Cummings is a historian who specializes in the history of women, immigration, and religion in the United States. She published her first book, New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era, in 2009 with the University of North Carolina Press. A volume co-edited with R. Scott Appleby, Catholics and the American Century: Recasting Narratives of U.S. History (Cornell University Press), was published in 2012.

Her current project, Citizen Saints: Catholics and Canonization in America, was supported by an NEH Fellowship during the academic year 2010-11. She has published academic and scholarly articles on this topic and is recognized as a national expert on canonization.

In June 2014, Dr. Cummings convened (with John McGreevy) Notre Dame’s Annual Italian Studies seminar in Rome. The seminar explored transatlantic approaches to the study of American Catholicism, with a particular focus on connections between Italy and the United States. She also serves as co-director (with Timothy Matovina and Robert Orsi) of the Cushwa Center’s “Lived History of Vatican II Project,” which explores the local implementation of the Council in 15 dioceses on six continents.

In May 2015, she convened, with Carmen Mangion and Alana Harris, “The Nun in the World: Catholic Sisters and the Second Vatican Council,” an international conference in London. Dr. Cummings currently oversees the History of Women Religious, an academic organization devoted to the historical study of Catholic sisters in the United States.

Dr. Cummings often serves as a media commentator on contemporary events in the Church. She appeared on NBC’s live coverage of the papal conclave in March 2013, the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXII in April 2014, and will appear on NBC’s live coverage of the papal visit to the United States in September 2015.



Sister Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP

Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

Keynote Address: "Go and Tell: The Testimony of Women and the Faith of the Church"

Sister Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on theological anthropology, Christology, fundamental theology, and feminist and intercultural theologies at the University of Notre Dame.

She is the author of: Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination (Continuum, 1997), Speaking with Authority: Catherine of Siena and the Voices of Women Today (Paulist, 2008), The Praxis of the Reign of God: An Introduction to the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx (co-editor; Fordham University Press, 2002) and numerous articles on theology, preaching, and spirituality in both scholarly and pastoral journals.

She is currently working on a book titled Words of Spirit and Life: Theology, Preaching and Spirituality. A former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (2005-2006), Sr. Hilkert was the first recipient of Washington Theological Union’s Sophia Award for Theological Excellence in service of ministry in 1997 and was awarded Barry University's Yves Congar Award for Theological Excellence in 2011.

She was the 2012 recipient of the Ann O’Hara Graff Award by the Women’s Constructive Theology Seminar of the Catholic Theological Society of America for her contributions to the integration of academic and pastoral theology. She has preached and lectured in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa and Australia, as well as the United States.