Last week, M. Shawn Copeland, PhD, spoke at St. Catherine University’s 12th annual Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity. Her lecture, “Compassion and the Suffering God,” explored the meaning of compassion, why it matters and how solidarity between people can encourage us to respond to the suffering of others in compassionate ways.
To a crowd of more than 650 people in The O’Shaughnessy, Copeland addressed the contradiction of how our global community can unite in hope, grief and relief over stories such as the rescue of children from a Thai cave, but also numb ourselves to the everyday suffering of those around us. She called on her audience to shoulder the burden of ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are not made to suffer unnecessary social injustices.
Perhaps most importantly, Copeland stressed the need to feel compassion as the first step toward solving the problems evident in society. She states, “We in the United States cannot escape our own cultural and social problems with human indifference or a lack of compassion.”
Students, staff and faculty can listen to the full lecture.
Copeland is a professor of systematic theology at Boston College. She is an award-winning writer who has authored several books about spirituality, political theology, race and gender.
Copeland is the first African American to serve as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) and is a recipient of its highest honor, the John Courtney Murray Award, for her “outstanding contribution to the intellectual life.” Her research centers on issues of theological and philosophical anthropology, as well as African-derived cultural experience and African-American intellectual history.
The Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity annually brings professionals who exemplify in their life and work the values and principles inherent in the Catholic Identity of St. Catherine University. The initiative infuses Catholic perspectives and understandings more deeply into the curriculum and daily life on campus. Workshops and discussion groups promote greater depth of thought, inquiry, sharing, listening, dialog and understanding about the Catholic faith and understanding the great spiritual resources alive and accessible in every religion.