Author Kathleen Norris to Receive Colman Barry Award from SJU

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April 1, 2004

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. -- Saint John's University will present the 11th annual Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to author Kathleen Norris to honor her service to society as a leading voice of contemplative Christianity. The award will be presented in conjunction with Saint John's Day activities on Friday, April 16, in Guild Hall on the SJU campus. The event is by invitation only.

Norris is an award-winning writer, poet and essayist. Norris' writing draws on her rich life experience to satisfy the human thirst for spiritual growth through contemplative practice, often setting free the monastic that live in each of us. Her books, including "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, The Cloister Walk" (a meditative account of the year she spent at Saint John's when a resident of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research) and "Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith," have inspired and encouraged untold numbers of modern-day spiritual pilgrims. Norris is the recipient of the Guggenheim and Bush Foundation awards and has been published in anthologies, magazines and journals, including The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.

Norris was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Honolulu. After graduating from Bennington College, Vt., she worked in New York City at the Academy of American Poets for five years. Then she and her late husband, poet David Dwyer, moved to the house that her grandparents had owned in Lemmon, S.D.

The Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society recognizes the contributions that the Rev. Barry, a Benedictine monk of Saint John's Abbey and former president of SJU, made during his life of scholarship and teaching. The author of several books, including his three-volume "Readings in Church History and Worship and Work," the Rev. Barry began his teaching career at Saint John's in 1952. He died in 1994.

The Rev. Barry was responsible for the creation of the Jay Phillips Chair in Jewish Studies in 1969, the first such chair at an American catholic college, and the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library in 1964. His creative leadership set the roots on the SJU campus for Minnesota Public Radio in 1967, which has grown to become one of the top public radio networks in the nation.

The Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society is given annually to those who believe and demonstrate that service to others, in its expansion of human understanding and extension of social justice, comprises the best in human achievement.

Saint John's University for men and the College of Saint Benedict for women are partners in liberal arts education, providing students the opportunity to benefit from the distinctions of not one, but two nationally recognized Catholic, residential, undergraduate institutions. Together CSB and SJU challenge students to live balance lives of learning, work, leadership and service in a changing world.