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Dr. Marian Ronan
Research Professor of Catholic Studies, Center for World Christianity
Marian Ronan was born into a working-class family in Chester, Pennsylvania. Her father’s parents were Irish immigrants; her mother’s people had been in the US a bit longer. She spent twelve years in the Philadelphia parochial school system, which, after World War II, was truly massive. She is still grateful to the Catholic sisters there who taught her to read and write.
Marian’s first publication was a letter to the editor of a local paper in the early 1960s, for which other readers accused her of communism. As she earned an undergraduate degree in religion in the late 1960s, people kept asking her why anyone would do such a thing, since “religion was on its way out.” (Subsequent developments may have led them to rethink this notion.) After college she became involved in the women’s movement in the churches. In the 1980s, she and some friends wrote three books on Christian feminism.
Having three books published was gratifying but not remunerative, so Marian supported herself by writing grant proposals for many years. She earned an MDiv at NYTS in the 1980s, serving at the same time as NYTS Director of Development. After receiving the PhD in Religion from Temple University, she taught for ten years at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.
During these years, Marian continued to work on a problem that had long preoccupied her: why, when the future seemed so promising for US Catholics at the time of Vatican Council II, did things then go downhill so precipitously– membership decline, parish closings, and a seemingly endless war over sex and gender? And what’s to be done about all this? In 2009, Columbia University Press published Marian’s response to this question:Tracing the Sign of the Cross: Sexuality, Mourning, and the Future of American Catholicism. In it, she explores the ways in which four American Catholic writers–James Carroll, Mary Gordon, Donna Haraway and Richard Rodriguez–work through the losses of recent years to arrive at a new, chastened vision of the church.
Marian’s BlogPage – http://marianronan.wordpress.com/
Marian’s new book, Tracing the Sign of the Cross: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14702-6/tracing-the-sign-of-the-cross
Interview on Tracing the Sign of the Cross: http://www.cup.columbia.edu/static/ronan-interview