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Curran Center for American Catholic Studies

Duane Library

The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies advances knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American Catholicism within the academy, the church, the broader religious community, and the general public.

Our mission is to:

  • Educate rising generations of religiously-informed citizens

  • Foster ecumenical, inter-religious, and interdisciplinary engagement with Catholic thought and practice

  • Promote informed and compassionate analysis of the critical religious and social issues of our time.

A Center for American Catholic Studies


  • The Center focuses on the rich and complex story of Catholicism in the Americas.

  • We take a ‘hemispheric’ approach to Catholicism that recognizes the interwoven tapestry of Catholicism in North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean—the entire “ecclesia in America.”


  • The Curran Center is rooted in Fordham’s Roman Catholic Jesuit identity, an identity that inspires a critical-faithful approach to the tradition and a creative search to imagine its place in the world.

  • Catholic means universal, and the Center’s vision of Catholicism is global and inclusive.

  • Our conversations are ecumenical, interreligious, and with those not having religious identities.

  • Inspired by the example of Pope Francis, we recognize that thinking about faith demands thinking about justice issues such as poverty, peace, and the earth as well.


  • As a university-based center, we emphasize an approach to Catholicism that is intellectual and engaged.

  • Our American Catholic Studies concentration provides Fordham undergraduates with an opportunity for intensive study of the Catholic tradition enhanced by events, outings, mentorship, service, and an experience of the community.

  • Our programming includes lectures by distinguished scholars, conferences on timely issues, and faculty reading groups that explore topics of faith, justice, aesthetics, and human meaning.

  • Our awards and book series seeks to support scholarship on Catholicism that is creative, critical, and explores new horizons.

Our Founders, Our Story

In 2001, university president Rev. Joseph O'Hare, S.J., approached Rev. Mark Massa, S.J., about forming a center for the study of American Catholicism. In the following months, Fr. Massa set to work developing Fr. O'Hare's vision, in hopes of establishing a nationally-recognized hub for the study of American Catholic history, identity, and practice.

In 2004, John and Connie Curran expressed to Fr. Massa their interest in endowing the center, and the Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, named in honor of John's parents, was born. Dedicated to advancing the Jesuit Catholic educational mission of the university, the Curran Center is a hub for many different types of events and programs, including public lectures, faculty seminars, major scholarly conferences, and an undergraduate concentration that, in the words of our students, shapes the way Fordham students "see and engage the world."

A Look Ahead: Upcoming Events

The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies invites applications for its second annual competition for the New Scholar Essay Prize for Catholic Studies in the Americas until February 15, 2021, at 11:59 pm. We invite the submission of essays penned by new scholars that offer cutting edge research about Catholics and Catholicism in North, Central, or South America and/or the Caribbean. Those eligible for the prize include current Ph.D. candidates who are A.B.D. ("all but dissertation") or those with a Ph.D. or Th.D. conferred no earlier than 2014.

A Look Back: Past Event Highlight

The Four Martyres Churchwomen: Allies In Today's Struggle for Social Justice
A presentation by Edward T. Brett, Ph.D., and Donna Whitson Brett, M.A.
December 2, 2020

In the Shadow of the Cross: Black Women and the Making of U.S. Catholicism
The 16th Annual Rita Cassella Jones Lecture, presented by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams (Villanova University)
October 20, 2020

Pope Francis’s new call for a radical re-ordering of society’s priorities
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
In collaboration with Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Wednesday, October 7, 2020 | 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Jazz is Love: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams
Presented and performed by Deanna Witkowski
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
5:30 p.m., Butler Commons, Duane Library, Rose Hill Campus

The Sexual Dynamics of Modern Catholicism
Presented by Robert Orsi (Northwestern University)
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
5:30 p.m., Tognino Hall, Duane Library, Rose Hill Campus