Dr. Nancy Dallavalle ’83 receives Sr. Mary Anthony Wagner Award at Reunion 2019

“[Nancy] is a champion for the place of women in the Church. She is a veteran of navigating the difficult choices that are often presented to women in the Church and maintains a good working relationship with clergy while still carving out an appropriate place for the woman scholar/worker in Faith Formation and Social Justice.”

Dr. Nancy Dallavalle was the recipient of this year’s Sr. Mary Anthony Wagner Award, one of two alumni achievement awards given by the School of Theology and Seminary. The Sr. Mary Anthony Wagner Award seeks to recognize alumnae who have embraced the principles of collaboration and scholarship that are at the heart of the Benedictine heritage and mission of Saint John’s. Recipients are those who, through their vocation and example, encourage others to promote and build environments for empowering women in using their skills and gifts for the benefit of the church, and who inspire future generations of women to continue this important effort.

Dr. Dallavalle arrived at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary shortly after completing her Bachelor’s in Music at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, enrolling in a Master of Arts in Theology program concentrating in Systematics, and obtaining her degree in 1983. Nancy pursued additional theological studies, receiving her Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1993. Nancy subsequently joined the Religious Studies department at Fairfield University in Connecticut, teaching, serving as department chair (2008-14), and most recently as Vice President for Mission and Identity.

In addition to Nancy’s teaching career, she has undertaken work focusing on the meeting of feminist thought and Catholic theology, for which she received a Lilly Endowment Grant in 1999-2000. Her appearance on CNN and CBS, as well as in newspapers and on the radio, has been influential in furthering dialogue regarding women’s impact on Catholic thought. Additionally, her membership in and leadership of various religious committees and organizations, such as the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the College Theology Society, have been prime examples of advancing female voices and roles within the Church.

In a letter congratulating Nancy, Father Dale Launderville noted, “It is clear that you, like Sister Mary Anthony, have the drive and ability to inspire those around you. It is evident through your involvement and interaction with your students, peers and colleagues that you are ever deserving of this award and recognition.”

Currently, Nancy divides her time between service with Fairfield University’s Provost Office, membership on different theology-related committees, and adding to her collection of published works. We are also happy to note that since 2017, Dr. Dallavalle has served, by appointment of the Abbot, on the Board of Advisors for the Liturgical Press. She returns to Saint John’s campus a few times each year and has enjoyed the stimulating and creative intellectual experience she has gained. As an interesting side note and as you might have guessed, Nancy is married to another Saint John’s alum, Bob Wething - they reside in Fairfield, Connecticut.


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