April 14, 2016

Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity celebrates 10 years

Amata Miller, IHM, director of the Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity with Patricia O'Connor Myser ’56. Photo by Ashley de los Reyes '15

Faculty and staff joined in celebration this week to mark the 10th anniversary of the Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity.

All successful movements start with a dream, a vision, an imagining of something great. The Myser Initiative was no different. A few years into her presidency, Andrea Lee, IHM envisioned a bold, multi-faceted initiative to "integrate our Church's great intellectual tradition with Catholic Social Teaching" into St. Kate’s curriculum.

The program launched, thanks to a $1 million endowment from Patricia O'Connor Myser ’56 and her husband, Buzz. Over the next 10 years, hundreds of faculty and staff participated in workshops, planning retreats and brown bags. Faculty represented St. Kate’s at Collegium, a national annual colloquy on faith and intellectual life. The Myser Initiative’s popular annual lecture series featured acclaimed Catholic intellectual leaders, including Lisa Cahill, Joan Chittister, Elizabeth Johnson and Carolyn Woo.

“We are grateful for your financial generosity and also for your generosity of spirit. Your presence and participation in so many of the events sends a strong message to our community,” said Provost Colleen Hegranes, addressing Pat Myser during the event. “I wonder if even Sister Andrea imagined that the name Myser would become synonymous with Catholic identity at St. Kate's.”

Recruited as the founding director of the Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity, Amata Miller, IHM, led the program for the past decade and will retire this summer.

“Because of Sister Amata’s leadership, Catholic identity is suffused throughout the University,” said Hegranes. “There is no question that this has been a truly successful initiative that will be a significant part of this University for years to come.”

In 2011, Sister Amata was recognized by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities with the Monika K. Hellwig Award for outstanding contributions to Catholic intellectual life — the first non-theologian honored with the award. Before launching the Myser Initiative, Sister Amata taught economics at Marygrove, St. Kate's and St. Edward’s University; served as education coordinator for NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby based in Washington, D.C.; and was financial vice president for the IHM congregation.

Hegranes also announced the establishment of the Amata Miller, IHM, Mission in Action Award. This award will be presented annually at St. Kate’s Teaching Learning Network conference to a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated a commitment to the Catholic mission of the University. The first recipient will be announced in January, 2017.

By Sharon Rolenc