Distinguished awardees honored

At the 2015 Presidential luncheon, Professor William Portier of the University of Dayton, Professor Dennis Ryan of The College of New Rochelle, and the Rev. John Padberg, S.J., representing the Institute of Jesuit Sources, were honored with the ACHA’s Distinguished Awards in Scholarship, Teaching and Service, respectively. 

The award citations are reprinted below.

Distinguished Scholar Award

ProfessoWilliam Portier earned his doctorate in Theology from St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, in 1980, but his publishing career began in the previous decade and has not stopped. And while he has been an active member of the American Catholic Historical Association, he has held office in the College Theology Society and is currently serving as president of the Société d’Études sur Alfred Loisy; but it is for his scholarly contribution to Catholic scholarship that we honor him today. William Portier has been a key player in the American Academy of Religion’s working group on Roman Catholic Modernism, which contributed substantially to the development of the historical and theological threads surrounding “Americanism” and “Modernism” in late 19th and 20th centuries,   His Divided Friends. Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United Statespublished in 2014 by the Catholic University of America Press, is the fruit of several key threadof his personal and scholarly interests for decades.  Divided Friends analyzes and links the historical and theological issues of the four men in the 19th and early 20th centuries and unfolds the deep personal toll on the people involved.  Professor Portier earlier co-edited with R. Scott Appleby and Patricia Byrne, C.S.J., Creative Fidelity, American Catholic Intellectual Traditions.  The book, part of a trend-setting series, provides a contextual framework and primary sources for the development of intellectual and theological patterns in U.S. Catholicism through several centuries.

In addition to many chapters in books, The College Theology Society awarded him with “Best Article, 1989” for his “The Future of Americanism: Two Generations of American Catholic Expansionism in Europe”, in Robert Daly, S.J., edited, Rising From History. American Catholic Theology Looks to the Future.  His articles have appeared in many professional journals, including The ThomistAmerican Catholic StudiesU.S. Catholic Historian, and Ecumenist, as well as in popular magazines, such as U.S. Catholic and Commonweal.

Because of his record of publication in American Catholic history, his efforts to demonstrate the importance of American Catholic history for contemporary theology, and his role in the formation of a new generation of American Catholic historical theologians, we believe William L. Portier is deserving of the ACHA’s 2015 Distinguished Scholar Award.

Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Dennis R. Ryan has been a teacher at the College of New Rochelle for over forty years now, beginning as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in 1971.  Over the past four decades, his course offerings have varied from classes that focus on the Religious Experiences of the East, to Morality & Sexuality, Death and the Grieving as well as Western Cultural Heritage — even Freshmen Writing.  His classes always fill-up early and to capacity.  Over the years he has challenged, enlightened, and delighted his students with his teaching style as well as his knowledge.  He is a teacher’s teacher, prepared, dedicated, and engaging.  His students admire and, yes, they love him.
A sample of student comments from course evaluations reflect the love and admiration his students have for this gifted teacher:
  • Dr. Ryan is an amazing instructor.  He takes religion to another level, I have never been more interested in my life.
  • Dr. Ryan is one of my favorite professors.  I’ve learned more about religion in this class than I have in all my years of studying my own religion.  He is knowledgeable, articulate, [and] enthusiastic ….
  • Professor Ryan is an amazing teacher always willing to answer questions.  I always leave his class with something new.
  • Best teacher ever! I have taken this course very seriously and it had the power to change my life.
  •  Dr. Ryan is extremely enjoyable and makes class fun.  I like how he incorporates a variety of learning styles and offers different types of learning experiences.  If I had the chance I’d like to take this class over, he brings excitement to a classroom.
  •  This is a very good professor. Not only did I learn more about my own religion, I also learned about other religions. Now I better appreciate other religions. The professor’s teaching made me a better man. This is my favorite class.
  •  Dr. Ryan is one of the kindest, smartest, most caring professors at The College of New Rochelle.
  • Dr. Ryan is an excellent teacher who not only teaches religion but allows you to connect to the subject. He is also well informed in the subject he is teaching. He made the course very interesting.

It is for the dedication and commitment this professor has manifested over the past 40 years in the teaching profession that Dr. Dennis R. Ryan is the ACHA’s Distinguished Teaching Award recipient for 2015.

Distinguished Service Award

Founded in 1961 as an apostolic work of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus, The Institute of Jesuit Sources (IJS) began in response to the Second Vatican Council’s directive for Religious Orders and Congregations to return to their original charisma. Over the past fifty years the Jesuits of the United States have been doing so, entrusting this work to its members of the Missouri Province. Through the leadership of its first director the Rev. George Ganss, S.J., (1961-1985) and his successor the Rev. John Padberg, S.J., (1985-2014), the IJS has made available to an English reading audience, documents and scholarly works concerning the Jesuits and their spirituality, especially those concerning the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
To date the IJS has produced over 117 publications including several in electronic media formats, and has become a resource on Jesuit and Ignatian history and spirituality for the whole English speaking world. It has published works translated into English from Chinese, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Tamil. Its publications in turn have so far been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Ukrainian.
For the contribution the Institute has made to the church and the scholarly community in promoting Catholic spirituality, the American Catholic Historical Association is pleased to present its 2015 Distinguished Award for Service to Catholic Studies to The Institute of Jesuit Sources of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus. The Reverend John Padberg, S.J., Director of the IJS from 1985 to 2014, accepting.