McGrath Institute explores doctrine and pastoral practice in publishing partnership with Ave Maria Press

By Anna Bradley

Engaging CatholicismEngaging Catholicism

Notre Dame, IN — Does modern science leave room for faith in a Creator? What is the Immaculate Conception—and why does it matter? Is the Eucharist really the body and blood of Jesus? How does prayer bring us closer to God? What are the best practices for the formation of Catholic families?

The McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame has partnered with Ave Maria Press to publish Engaging Catholicism, a six-part book series that will answer these questions and others through a concise exploration of the Church’s most important but often difficult-to-grasp doctrines, as well as crucial pastoral and spiritual practices.

Engaging Catholicism expands the McGrath Institute’s mission to connect the Catholic intellectual life at Notre Dame to the pastoral life of the Church and the spiritual needs of her people. Books in the series will take up doctrines in the Church that require deeper contemplation such as real presence, creation, and the communion of the saints. In addition, the series offers the best of the McGrath Institute’s pastoral wisdom on topics linked to prayer, youth ministry, and church communications. 

“For the McGrath Institute, this union of doctrine and pastoral ministry is key to our identity,” said John C. Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini director of the Institute. “The doctrines of the Church are always pastoral, inviting us to a deeper contemplation of the person of Jesus Christ. And yet, our pastoral programs are also infused with the wisdom of the Church’s teaching. What we hope to do with these books is to renew the Catholic imagination through attention to both doctrine and practice alike, inviting those who read the books to take a second look at the gift of the Church.”  

The first book in the series is available for purchase on February 19, 2021. Written by Carolyn Pirtle, program director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Ten Ways to Pray: A Catholic Guide for Drawing Closer to God is a pastoral exploration of ten different prayer methods. The second book, Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter? is authored by Timothy P. O’Malley, McGrath’s director of education and academic director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. It will be available for purchase on March 12, 2021. Both books are available for pre-order at Ave Maria Press.  

For more information and to subscribe to notifications as books in this series are published, visit

Contact: Amy North, Program Director of Communications, 574-631-2894,