Mount to Host Margaret F. Grace Lecture

Inaugural event will highlight the life and ministry of Catholic activist Dorothy Day

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Riverdale, N.Y. – Dorothy Day’s life of activism, writing, and devotion to the Catholic faith and its mission of selfless service will be the subject of the Margaret F. Grace Lecture, to be held at the College on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture series, subtitled “Where Do I Find Hope,” was established in 2001 by the late Margaret F. Grace, a Catholic lay leader and philanthropist who founded the Cardinal Suenens Center at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, to carry out the vision and priorities of the Second Vatican Council. In 2015, the Mount was selected by the Grace family as the new home of the lecture series. The Margaret F. Grace Lecture series is intended to explore ecumenism, world poverty, and social justice, themes that are inherent to the spirit and tradition of Vincent de Paul and Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The College has invited three highly regarded experts for a panel presentation: Robert Ellsberg, editor-in-chief and publisher of Orbis Books and a renowned authority on Dorothy Day; John L. Allen Jr., associate editor of the Boston Globe and a senior Vatican analyst for CNN; and Simone Campbell, S.S.S., a sister of the Catholic order of Sisters of Social Service, outspoken advocate of social justice, and a leader of interfaith interest groups working on behalf of the poor. The three were selected based on their commitment to social justice, their expertise on Dorothy Day, and their involvement with matters relating to deeper, modern considerations of what it means to be Catholic, a major Vatican initiative under Pope Francis.

Joshua Shmikler, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, leads a committee of Mount faculty and administrators charged with organizing the event. “We are especially pleased that these esteemed panelists have agreed to participate,” says Dr. Shmikler. “Robert Ellsberg worked closely with Day during the final years of her life, serving as managing editor of The Catholic Worker. He has published many books and articles about her, including her biography, letters, and diaries. It’s really outstanding that we have someone of this caliber who actually knew Dorothy Day personally.” Remaining panelists John L. Allen and Sr. Simone Campbell, recognized experts in their own right, are expected to add immeasurably to a multi-dimensional experience of Dorothy Day and her living message of mercy and service.

The lecture series would not have been possible without the extraordinary vision and commitment of the family of Margaret F. Grace, who died in 2014. Born in New York City to a devout Catholic family, she graduated from Manhattan’s Grace Institute, a tuition-free job-training program for women founded by W.R. Grace in 1897. During the years of the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, “Margie” went to Rome to support the work of Cardinal Leon Josef Suenens of Brussels, a key figure in Vatican affairs and the progressive changes brought about by the Council under Pope John XXIII.

Margaret and her husband Peter Grace were longstanding benefactors of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Their son, Patrick Grace, a trustee emeritus, continues the tradition of generosity and service, which will now be further augmented by this new honor of hosting the annual Grace Lecture.

To learn more about the upcoming Margaret F. Grace Lecture, the speakers, and to register, visit mountsaintvincent.edu/grace.