College of Saint Benedict Koch Chair in Catholic Thought & Culture

Serving the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University

2014 Koch Lecture:

The Politics of Immigration and

a Catholic Counternarrative

Lecture by Kristin Heyer
October 6, 2014  7:30 p.m.  Gorecki 204

The United States remains the world's leading destination for immigrants, and across new regions, U.S. residents are increasingly confronted with newcomers. In some quarters, reactions reflect the nation's historic openness to immigrants, in others, its deep ambivalence about "outsiders." As immigration debates continue to simmer, the national conversation too often remains characterized by political posturing and fear-based rhetoric that pits the interests of different constituencies against one another. The realities shaping undocumented immigration remain complex, yet the voices of migrants rarely register in national debates about border control policy or work visa quotas. Kristin Heyer, author of Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration, will offer an overview of immigration paradigms and explore the resources the Catholic intellectual tradition brings to bear on this pressing moral issue. In contrast to dominant immigration 'scripts' framing the issue in terms of economic instrumentalism or fixed national identity, Catholic commitments shape a different story, a (counter)narrative of our common humanity, our kinship, with implications for a just immigration ethic. Given her expertise in gendered dimensions of immigration rooted in formative experiences with deported women and mixed-status families, Dr. Heyer will highlight the threats particular to migrant women and families as well as their contributions.

Kristin Heyer's Biography

Kristin E. Heyer serves as Bernard J. Hanley Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University.  She received her B.A. from Brown University and her Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College in 2003.  Her books include Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration (2012); Prophetic and Public: the Social Witness of U.S. Catholicism (2006), which won the College Theology Society's "Best Book Award," and the edited volume Catholics and Politics: Dynamic Tensions between Faith and Power (2008), all with Georgetown University Press.  Her articles have appeared in Theological Studies, The Journal of Catholic Social Thought, The Journal of Peace and Justice Studies, Political Theology and America.  She serves on the boards of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church and the Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education, and she is an editor for Georgetown University Press' Moral Traditions series.

Kristin Heyer's Curriculum Vitae

Book-Lunch Discussion Group for Faculty and Staff

Mary Syzbist, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for poetry, discusses her most recent work: Incarnadine.

Friday, October 3 from 12-1:00p.m.

In her gorgeous second collection, Mary Szybist blends traditional and experimental aesthetics to recast the myth of the Biblical Mary for this era. In vulnerable lyrics, surprising concrete poems, and other forms, and with extraordinary sympathy and a light touch of humor, Szybist probes the nuances of love, loss, and the struggle for religious faith in a world that seems to argue against it. This is a religious book for nonbelievers, or a book of necessary doubts for the faithful.

About the Book

Mary Szybist's richly imagined encounters offer intimate spaces and stagings for experiences that are exploratory and sometimes explosive. Through the lens of an iconic moment, the Annunciation of an unsettling angel to a bodily young woman, Szybist describes the confusion and even terror of moments in which our longing for the spiritual may also be a longing for what is most fundamentally alien to us. In a world where we are so often asked to choose sides, to believe or not believe, to embrace or reject, Incarnadine offers lyrical and brilliantly inventive alternatives.

About the Author

Mary Szybist grew up in Pennsylvania. She earned degrees from the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. Her first collection of poetry,Granted (2003), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and in 2009, she won a Witter Bynner Fellowship. According to judge Kay Ryan, Syzbist's "lovely musical touch is light and exact enough to catch the weight and grind of love. This is a hard paradox to master as she does."
Szybist is also the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in the Iowa Review and Denver Quarterly and was featured in Best American Poetry (2008)She is an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. 

















Contact Us

Jennifer Beste
College of Saint Benedict
Koch Chair in Catholic
Thought and Culture
Assoc. Professor of Theology
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John's University
St. Joseph MN 56374
(320) 363-5934