Villanova to Welcome Maureen O’Connell, PhD, to Deliver Annual Mother Mary Lange Lecture in Black Catholic Studies

Maureen O’Connell, PhD, to Deliver Mother Mary Lange Lecture

VILLANOVA, Pa. (October 11, 2023) — As its signature event for Black Catholic History Month, Villanova University will host the 2023 Mother Mary Lange Lecture in Black Catholic Studies at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, at the Charles Widger School of Law on Villanova’s campus. Maureen O’Connell, PhD, Professor of Christian Ethics in the Department of Religion and Theology at La Salle University, will deliver the lecture.

Dr. O’Connell, an award-winning educator and scholar, is a leading voice in theological ethics, social justice, and the Catholic Church. She authored Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization and If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice, which won the CTS Book of the Year Award and Catholic Press Association Award for Best Book in Theology in that same year. Her newest book, Undoing the Knots: Five Generations of American Catholic Anti-Blackness, explores the interplay of her Catholic and racial identities across her family’s history in the City of Philadelphia. She is a member of POWER (Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild), an interfaith coalition of more than 50 congregations committed to making Philadelphia the city of “just love” through faith-based community organizing and serves on the Boards of Cranaleith Spiritual Center, a ministry of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, and the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies. Throughout the duration of the Global Synod on Synodality, Dr. O’Connell is serving as Director of Synod and Higher Education for Discerning Deacons, an international initiative to renew the deaconate and restore Catholic women to it.

The lecture series, inaugurated in 2021, takes its name from the Venerable Mother Mary Lange, one of six American Catholics of African descent on the road to canonization. She was the resilient and pioneering chief founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore, the first permanent congregation for women of color, established in 1829. The order, in turn, founded St. Frances Academy, the oldest continuously operating school for Black Catholic children in the United States. Villanova was one of the first Catholic institutions of higher education to welcome Black women religious, most notably the Oblate Sisters of Providence, after World War I. The Mother Mary Lange Lecture exemplifies the University’s ongoing commitment to anti-racism, as well as to the contributions and achievements of Black Catholics.

The Mother Mary Lange Lecture is sponsored by the Office for Mission and Ministry and the Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit