Dr. Katherine Greiner received a Ph.D. in Theology and Education from Boston College in 2017. She earned her M.T.S. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 2007 and her B.A. in history and theology from Carroll College in 2005. She taught theology at Mt. St. Joseph Academy in Boston, MA from 2007-2011. Her dissertation, “There is a Wideness to God’s University: Exploring and Embodying the Deep Stories, Wisdom, and Contributions of Women Religious in Catholic Higher Education,” focuses on questions concerning Catholic identity, charism, and mission in Catholic colleges and universities founded and sponsored by women Religious congregations.
Her research interests include Christian spirituality in contemporary society and higher education, ministry in the Catholic Church today, American Catholicism, and feminist and contextual theologies. She is a regular contributor to the blog Daily Theology.
When I was nine years old, I asked my father where I should go to college. He took my rather precocious question seriously and encouraged me to look at Catholic colleges. He thought it was important that I study somewhere where I was sure to get a well-rounded liberal arts education that included a solid foundation in philosophy and theology. “What are some Catholic colleges?” I pressed. He listed a few. Then he said, “You know, there is a great little college in Helena, Montana, called Carroll College. I’ve heard it is a wonderful place.” Montana sounded like an exciting and exotic place to my nine year old ears. I started telling everyone I was going to go to Carroll. Years later as a senior in high school, I remembered that conversation. I applied and was accepted to Carroll. Little did I know how that brief conversation with my father marked the beginning of my relationship with this sacred institution.
I started my freshman year at Carroll as a chemistry major, but after taking "History of Western Civilization" with Fr. Jeremiah Sullivan, I changed my major to history. Then in the fall of my sophomore year, I took "Intro to the Old Testament" taught by Dr. Linda MacCammon, who remains one of my closest friends and mentors. She instilled in me a deep passion for sacred scripture and for the discipline of theology. Dr. MacCammon and other members of the theology department, including the late, most beloved Dr. Annette Moran, CSJ, and Dr. John Ries, the current chair of the theology department, taught me christology, trinitarian theology, ecclesiology, moral theology, history of Christian Thought and sacramental theology. I learned how to explore the rich traditions of the Christian faith from a historical and contextual perspective. I learned what St. Anselm meant when he defined theology as “fides quaerens intellectum,” faith seeking understanding.
After graduating from Carroll, I moved to Boston, MA, for graduate studies. During my ten years in Boston, I earned a Master’s of Theological Studies degree from Weston Jesuit School of Theology, taught religion at an all-women’s high school, and earned my doctorate in Theology and Education from Boston College. I returned to Carroll College to teach in the Theology department in the fall of 2015. It felt like a beautiful homecoming.
Over the past five years I have had the privilege to teach our bright and eager students in Theological Foundations, courses on Christian spirituality, Medieval Women Mystics, and Juedeo-Christian Thought in the Honors Scholars Program. I also teach our ministry courses and advise students in various pastoral internships around the diocese of Helena. I love teaching. I love watching our Carroll students come alive as they grapple with questions like "Who is God? What does it mean to be human? What am I called to do with my life? What happens when we die? Why is there suffering in the world?"
During this pandemic, these questions seem even more pressing. I keep reminding my students right now, as we meet over Zoom, that when we get on the other side of this pandemic, much in our society will need to be reimagined and rebuilt. We will need compassionate, empathetic doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals; we will need writers, poets, and artists, philosophers, teachers, sociologists, psychologists, mathematicians, and scientists. We will need people who can think creatively, ethically, and critically. The work of a Catholic liberal arts college like Carroll matters more than ever.
We will also need people who can think theologically. As our world continues to grapple with this pandemic, we will continue to hear the collective cry, “Why?” and “How long, oh Lord, how long?” Theology can help us seek meaning and hope in times of senseless suffering and pain. I firmly believe that any relevant and helpful theological response to those questions must take this pain and anguish seriously. It will not try to sanitize the pandemic with platitudes; rather, a good theology can help us seek and rest in the faith that God is present with us and God’s promise of life continues. A good theology will listen to and take seriously the stories of pain and hurt. A good theology will ask hard questions and critique easy answers. A responsive and helpful theology will draw from the rich wisdom of the faith tradition and integrate it in life-giving, relevant ways. I am so grateful to work at a place like Carroll where we can wrestle with these questions in conversation with colleagues and students who care so much for our world and for creation and who seek to know our loving God more deeply.
I echo what my beloved colleagues featured over the past few weeks have said: this is a strange, difficult moment for all of us. Yet here we are in the Easter season when we celebrate the culmination of the Christian story: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. In this time of brokenness and uncertainty, I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are granted health and safety. I hope we can all find glimmers of hope and signs of resurrection in our daily lives. Peace be with you all.