Teaching Life and Human Dignity Symposium

In Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II says promoting a culture of life involves the “patient and fearless work of education aimed at encouraging one and all to bear each other's burdens” (§88). He encourages teachers and catechists to courageously and constantly propose the truth about the human person and to form young people within a vision of human dignity that values the lives of all people, especially the most vulnerable. The Teaching Life and Human Dignity Symposium at the McGrath Institute for Church Life is a four-day digital gathering from June 27- July 1 of leaders in Catholic education and diocesan ministry to develop a deeper understanding of human dignity in the Catholic intellectual tradition and to engage in professional formation that builds pedagogical expertise and promotes the effective integration of life and human dignity issues across the academic subject areas. 

Our goal is simple: to support Catholic leaders in their mission to educate the minds and hearts of students and youth in a deeper awareness of the inviolable dignity of every human being and in the cultivation of virtues and practices that accompany this awareness. 

For more information or if you are interested in attending please contact life@nd.edu.

Featured Speakers

Brahier Portrait

John Brahier is the campus minister at Divine Child High School (Dearborn, MI) and previously taught secondary mathematics and theology. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame (Class of 2014), he also has a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Bowling Green State University. His passion lies in invigorating the Catholic identity of schools, which has inspired work in and around his own classroom as well as extracurricular work. This work has included presentations at NCEA, a publication in the Journal for Catholic Education, and collaboration with the McGrath Institute for Church Life on a variety of projects.



Charlie Camosy, Ph.D. grew up in the cornfields of Wisconsin, but he is now an Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University in the Bronx, where he has taught since finishing his PhD in theology at Notre Dame in 2008. Among other places, his published articles have appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Journal of the Catholic Health Association, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News and America magazine. He has a monthly “Purple Catholicism” column with Religion News Service and is the author of five books. Too Expensive to Treat? (Eerdmans) was a 2011 award-winner with the Catholic Media Association, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics (Cambridge) was named a 2012 “best book” with ABC Religion and Ethics, and For Love of Animals (Franciscan) was featured in the New York Times. Beyond the Abortion Wars (Eerdmans), was a 2015 award-winner also with the Catholic Media Association. His most recent book, Resisting Throwaway Culture (New City), was published in May of 2019 and won first place from the Catholic Publishers Association as “Resource of the Year.” His next book, out in July 2021 (New City) is titled: Losing Our Dignity: How Secularized Medicine is Undermining Fundamental Human Equality. In addition to advising the Faith Outreach office of the Humane Society of the United States, the pro-life commission of the Archdiocese of New York, and the American Solidarity Party, Camosy received the Robert Bryne award from the Fordham Respect Life Club and received the 2018 St. Jerome Award for scholarly excellence from the Catholic Library Association. He has four children, three of whom he and his wife Paulyn adopted from a Filipino orphanage in June of 2016.


John Cavadini Small Square

John C. Cavadini, Ph.D. is a Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, having served as Chair from 1997-2010. Since 2000 he has served as the Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame. He received a B.A. in 1975 from Wesleyan University; an M.A. in 1979 from Marquette University; M.A., 1981, M.Phil., 1983 and his Ph.D. in 1988 from Yale University. A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1990, Cavadini specializes in patristic and early medieval theology, the theology of Augustine, and the history of biblical and patristic exegesis. The author of several theological books, he also writes essays, articles, and reviews in popular journals and is frequently called upon by Church leaders, ministers and teachers to talk on these subjects.Recent publications include Pope Francis and the Event of Encounter, which he edited with Donald Wallenfang; Mary on the Eve of the Second Vatican Council, edited with Danielle M. Peters, and the essay, “The Kingdom of Irony: Augustine, Sin, and Dante’s Inferno” in Dante, Mercy, and the Beauty of the Human Person.

In 2009, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to a five-year term on the International Theological Commission. The commission, whose membership is personally reviewed and appointed by the pope, consists of some 30 theologians from around the world who advise the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cavadini has served as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine since 2006 and was also named by Pope Benedict to the Order of the Knights of St. Gregory the Great.



Clare Kilbane Sq

Clare Kilbane, Ph.D.  is a Professor of the Practice at the University of Notre Dame and serves as the McGrath Institute for Church Life's Senior Learning Designer.  Prior to joining the Institute team in 2018, she was a Professor of Education at Otterbein University, teaching courses on instruction, assessment, and technology integration for pre-service and in-service teachers.  She is the author of Teaching Models: Designing Instruction for 21st Century Learners (2013, Allyn & Bacon/ Pearson), and The 4C's: Understanding 21st Century Skills in the Light of Faith (National Catholic Educational Association, 2018) as well as numerous other books, multimedia, and articles.  A frequent collaborator with Catholic schools, Clare has extensive experience supporting teacher professional development and educational change initiatives.



Christina Leblang Square

Christina Leblang, M.T.S. is the Associate Program Director of the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity, she works with University Life Fellows in the creation of pedagogical materials for the Teaching Life and Human Dignity series. Christina also manages the Life Lunch series, the Teaching Life and Human Dignity Facebook group, and communications more broadly. She lives in Granger, Indiana with her husband Scott and three children, Clark, Gianna, and Addison.



Anthony Pagliarini Square

Anthony Pagliarini, Ph.D. is an assistant teaching professor in Biblical Theology and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Depart of Theology at The University of Notre Dame. He is fellow of the Word on Fire Institute and is an occasion contributor at various Catholic publications such Church Life, Aleteia, Crux, and Our Sunday Visitor. He resides with his wife and four children in South Bend, IN.




Brian Pedraza 2

Brian Pedraza, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Theology at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge, where he has taught for six years since earning his Ph.D. at The Catholic University of America. His publications have appeared in Church Life, First Things, the Catechetical Review, and the Josephinum Journal of Theology. His recent book, Catechesis for the New Evangelization: Vatican II, John Paul II, and the Unity of Revelation and Experience was published by CUA Press in 2020. WIth his colleagues and students, he also hosts the Dunces' Corner podcast.




Sam Rocha, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of several books including A Primer for Philosophy and Education, which won the 2015 American Educational Studies Association Critics Choice Book Award and, most recently, The Syllabus as Curriculum, which won the 2020 American Educational Research Association book award for Division B in Curriculum Studies. Rocha has also released several albums of music and written in Catholic media outlets such as Church Life Journal, America, Commonweal, and Our Sunday Visitor. In July 2021, he will launch a podcast, Folk Phenomenology



Todd Walatka, Ph.D. is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Theology, where he also serves as the Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies and Director of the Master of Divinity Program. His current academic research centers on the theology of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the reception of Vatican II in Catholic thought and practice. For the past ten years, he has led the pedagogical formation of doctoral students in the Department of Theology and also teaches an introductory pedagogy course for high school teachers each summer. In 2018, he was awarded the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Greg Profile May 2021

Greg Walgenbach, Ph.D. has served nine years as Director of the Office of Life, Justice, and Peace for the Diocese of Orange in California. Greg earned a M.Div. and Ph.D. in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is passionate about encountering and helping others encounter Jesus and become formed in the Gospel, organized for action, and rooted in prayer.