Date of Award

Fall 2007

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.

Second Advisor

Kelly, William J.

Third Advisor

Carey, Patrick W.


While fulfilling course work for the doctoral program in religious studies, I was particularly engaged in questions of anthropology. I first approached the subject from the perspective of dogma, taking courses in Trinitarian theology, Christology, Pneumatology and Nature and Grace. I was greatly influenced by my instructor, Rev. David M. Coffey, who proposed that human personhood be understood, according to Trinitarian personhood, as "subsisting in relation." This suggestion was probably what first caused me to ponder the relationship between the individual and society. As a graduate student, I also had the opportunity to work as research assistant for Dr. Patrick W. Carey who was then compiling the early works of Orestes A. Brownson (1803-1876) in a seven volume set. Brownson was also preoccupied with the relationship between the individual and society, and though I cannot strictly say that his early theology influenced me, I can say that working through the questions with Brownson and Pat Carey certainly clarified my own thinking and increased my interest in the topic. But it was not until I took a course in social ethics with my now director Dr. Christine Firer-Hinze that the present study began to take shape. Prior to this class I had received no instruction on Catholic social teaching, and was only marginally aware of its existence. As a presumably catechized Catholic Christian, I thought this situation needed rectifying, and so in preparation for a paper I determined to read the entirety of it. I came home from the library with my little pile of paperback encyclicals and once I began to read I consumed them in one sitting like a novel that can't be put down. Almost everything I'd thought or hoped to say about how the individual relates to society was there in a stack of tiny little pamphlets. I didn't so much read the social teaching of the Church, as fall in love with it...



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