Annual Penn Club Reception: How Catholics Became American

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Discussing Michael Breidenbach’s new book with: 

  • Fr. Matt Malone, S.J., President and Editor in Chief, America Media 
  • Maura Jane Farrelly, Associate Professor of American Studies, Brandeis University 
  • Russell Hittinger, Warren Professor of Catholic Studies and Research Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa, and Co-Chair of Program in Catholic Social Thought at Lumen Christi Institute

Michael Breidenbach’s new book, How Catholics Became American, revises our understanding of the origins and meaning of the American principle of religious liberty. It describes how English and American Catholics—from the founder of Maryland to the Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Catholic bishop of the United States—answered challenges to their civil loyalty by denying papal infallibility and the pope’s authority to intervene in other countries. These reform-minded Catholics drew from an intellectual tradition that was rooted in Catholic thought yet compatible with a republican view of temporal independence, church-state separation, and religious liberty.

American Catholics of this sort fit their beliefs within early American ideologies and became important framers and founders in early America. As the pope’s authority is again severely challenged in America, this history will be critical for understanding the dynamics of dual loyalties, religious liberty, and religion in the public square today.

Collegium Institute’s Annual Penn Club Reception will explore these topics and more.



WHEN: Thursday, April 30

TIME: 6:00 PM

WHERE: The Penn Club of New York

More details and tickets coming soon!

The Art of Dying: CI’s Ars Vivendi Annual Arts Lecture​


  • Christian Wiman, renowned poet and Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature, Yale Divinity School 
  • Lydia Dugdale, Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Columbia University

Despite death’s inevitability, it is entirely human to possess a strong desire to live. This has enabled human beings to accomplish fantastic feats and beat insurmountable odds. Modern medicine is certainly among one of the greatest of these accomplishments. Diseases that were once catalysts for major epidemics have been forgotten. Even cancer has been somewhat tamed through the development of treatments and preventative measures for many of its forms. While developments such as these are noteworthy, they have also enabled us to push death further and further from our collective consciousness. Before many of the achievements of modern medicine, the care of the sick and dying was the domain of the clergy, family members, and friends. Dying was truly a community affair. 

What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? And how do we make that hunger productive and vital rather than corrosive and destructive? What are the relationships between art and faith, death and fame, heaven and oblivion. How can we learn to embrace the art of dying well?

WHEN: Wednesday, April 1

TIME: 7:00 – 8:30 PM

WHERE: Cafe 58


Interfaith Service Trip

Join PRRUCS for a night of service w/ Christ in the City.

“A real kind of connection with someone, a sort of sharing of humanity. It doesn’t have to be long, but an encounter is when you’re actually looking into someone’s eyes and saying, ‘I see you, and I’m actually listening to you.’”

– Dr. Jonathan Reyes, 
Founder of Christ in the City


Join the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS) for a special Interfaith Service-Learning Project. On Friday, March 30th, from 5:30-8:30pm, we will join Christ in the City to help create a culture of encounter, where each person is seen, known, and loved. 

Pizza dinner will be available starting at 5:00pm. Required training begins at 5:30pm, followed by the project at 6, and debrief and reflection at 8pm.  

Please register on this google form below, and direct questions to Sam Hatfield:



WHEN: Friday, March 30

TIME: 5:30 – 8:30 PM


On the State of the Church in China

Please join the Penn Catholic Newman Community and the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture for this most rare opportunity to converse with Joseph Cardinal Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong. 

Cardinal Zen has been a heroic witness for the suffering yet growing Church in China for the last four decades and was notoriously labeled a member of the Hong Kong “Gang of Four” by Mainland Chinese state media.  

On Tuesday, October 18th, he visits Philadelphia to discuss the state of religious freedom in China, the persecution of Catholics and other Christians, and his own struggle to achieve liberty and democracy for his people. 


WHEN: Tuesday, February 18

TIME: 6:00 – 7:00 PM

WHERE: Penn Newman Center

Dual Allegiances: Christian, Jewish and Muslim Perspectives

This event seeks to foster dialogue on the relationships between religious traditions and civic identity, citizenship, and the American legal tradition. It will focus on the ways in which religious communities have answered charges of civil disloyalty and how religious believers representing Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions in America have understood and shaped their overlapping, sometimes conflicting, religious and political identities. 

Featured panelists:

Beth Wenger, Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Pennsylvania 

Michael Breidenbach, Research Associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania and Faculty Fellow at Collegium Institute

Adnan Zulfiqar, Assistant Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School

Rogers Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Faith & Reason: Theology of the Body and Human Ecology

Collegium Institute’s Faith & Reason Discussion Series convenes once a week to discuss theological questions through a variety of interdisciplinary lenses and texts. This semester, the theme is “Theology of the Body and Human Ecology,” and each session will be led by a distinguished facilitator.

This week we will be joined by Damon Owens, Director of JoyToB, as we explore “The Nuptial Meaning of the Body.” Please RSVP by clicking the button below and also find a digital copy of the full reader for Friday’s discussion!




Dates: January 31, February 7, February 14, February 21, February 28
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Location: Newman Center  

Click below to register.

Food for Thought Module V: Living with Death

Death has been alive and well in the world since the Fall of Man. Since that time, Death, the concept, the actual event, the figure, has permeated and haunted the human imagination.  From the cave paintings of Lascaux depicting hunting scenes to Death as narrator in Markus Zusak’s 2005 bestselling novel, The Book Thief, death has shown his face from prehistory to the current day. How do we then live with the knowledge of death? How are death, health and mortality entwined? Can we overcome death or must we instead make space for it within our daily living? To what extent is it the one answer to every deep question about life?  

Join us as we explore these questions and more, from historical approaches to dealing with death, to caring for the dying, and grieving with the aggrieved. In this 4-week module of Food for Thought, we’ll delve into this quintessential topic and explore it with the help of voices like Montaigne, Plato, Dorothy Day, Lydia Dugdale, Christian Wiman, Emily Dickinson, Carlos Eire, Marilynne Robinson and more.  This module will culminate with a special event taking place on April 1st, our second annual Ars Vivendi Lecture, featuring award-winning poet Christian Wiman and director of Columbia’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics Lydia Dugdale, as they explore “The Art of Dying” in an evening conversation (find out more about this special event by visiting:



Collegium Institute Food for Thought, Dinner & Conversation
Dinner & Reader provided.

Wednesdays | 2/19, 2/26, 3/18, 3/25 | 5:45 – 7:00 PM 

Harrison College House Seminar Room M20

Food for Thought Module IV: Memory, History, Identity

As we begin the new year and (re)assess our resolutions, we may confront the question: who do I want to become in 2020?  That may seem like a bigger existential question than we may have bargained for on New Year’s Eve. But to what extent does it depend on other questions, no less profoundly existential, that we may be more likely to take for granted; that is:

  • How do I know who I am to begin with?  
  • Do I not sometimes (or regularly) forget important aspects of my life?  
  • How does what I choose to remember — and to omit — in the narrative of my self determine my identity?   
  • How simple is that ubiquitous piece of advice to “just be yourself”?

Join Collegium and Harrison College House for dinner as we continue to reflect together on these questions with the help of brief, provocative texts from the past and present.