ACHA Announces Recipients of 2021 Awards of Distinction

The American Catholic Historical Association is proud to announce the three recipients of its annual Awards of Distinction:

  • Distinguished Scholarship:
    Rev. Kevin P. Spicer, CSC, 
    Dean of the May School of Arts & Sciences, James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History, Stonehill College
  • Distinguished Teaching:
    Rev. Steven Avella, Professor, Department of History, Marquette University
  • Distinguished Service:
    Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism,
    University of Notre Dame

Rev. Kevin P. Spicer
Distinguished Scholarship Award

Rev. Spicer is the Dean of the May School of Arts & Sciences and James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College

The prize committee writes:

“Kevin P. Spicer, CSC, a prolific scholar and dedicated teacher, has produced relevant, thought-provoking narratives and engaging scholarship that examines the complicity and resistance of the Catholic Church under National Socialism. His most recent work, The Evil That Surrounds Us: The WWII Memoir of Erna Becker Kohen (Indiana University Press, 2017), a Holocaust memoir that he translated and edited with Martina Cucchiara, provides a first-hand account of the persecution of Catholics of Jewish heritage through the lens of one faith-filled woman.

His magisterial work, Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism (Northern Illinois University Press, 2008/2017), reveals the role of “brown priests,” Catholic priests who supported Adolf Hitler and National Socialism. Encompassing archival research from more than fifty archives, it is a ground-breaking study that has not been surpassed.”

Rev. Steven Avella
Distinguished Teaching Award

Rev. Avella is a professor in the Department of History at Marquette University

The prize committee writes:

“Father Avella has been a member of the Department of History at Marquette University since 1991 and served as department chair from 1994-1999. His research and teaching interests range from politics and culture to American religious history. He is prolific scholar of the American West with special emphasis on the place of religion in the region. Most important he is a dedicated and outstanding teacher focusing much of his energies towards undergraduates.

His teaching prowess was recognized by Marquette University in awarding him the “Faculty Star” award for service to the university, excellence in teaching, and contributions to scholarly discourse. He was also the recipient of the Robert and Mary Gettel Teaching Excellence Award, the highest honor afforded a faculty member for teaching excellence. He served as President of the ACHA in 2010 and inaugurated the distinguished awards that are presented at the annual meeting.”

Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame
Distinguished Service Award

From left: Former Cushwa Center director Tim Matovina, former Cushwa Center director Scott Appleby, current Cushwa Center director Kathleen Cummings, Professor Emeritus and founding Cushwa Center director Jay Dolan (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

The prize committee writes:

“The Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism is the premier resource for researching and promoting the history of American Catholicism. The Cushwa Center was established in 1975 at the University of Notre Dame. The four directors––Jay Dolan, R. Scott Appleby, Tim Matovina, and Kathleen Sprows Cummings––have expanded the scope of the Center’s research and activities. Recently, international programs, particularly cataloging and studying archives in Rome, have added a very valuable dimension to the Center’s research.

The Cushwa Center is nationally and internationally recognized for insightful seminars, major conferences, a number of publications, and substantial research funding for scholars. One of the signature endeavors of the Center is supporting the History of Women Religious Triennial Conference. In 2021 the Center inaugurated the Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., Award for scholarship on African-American Catholicism.”