Karen Park

St. Norbert College
Candidate for Executive Council (2023-25)

Candidate statement

My name is Karen E. Park and I am honored to be nominated for the executive council of the ACHA. I have been a longtime member of the society and have presented papers and participated in panels and annual meetings over the past several decades.My research interests include Marian devotion, sacred space and shrines, American Catholic history, convent writing and religion and American culture/politics. I received my BA in English from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI and my MA and PhD in the History of Christianity from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

Since 2008 I have been a faculty member at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI where I teach classes on Religion in America, Christian Mysticism, Historical Theology, as well as a seminar on the Virgin Mary. I am the author of several works on Marian apparitions and shrines in the US including Citadel of Orthodoxy: Meaning, Message, and the Possibility of Pilgrimage at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, La Crosse, WI. American Catholic Studies, April 2017 and Adele Brise: Pioneer, Prophet, and Priest, Special Issue, Nova Religio, November 2017. More recently, I am co-editor along with Dr. Katherine Dugan, of an volume entitled American Patroness: Marian Shrines and the Making of US Catholicism, co-edited with Katherine Dugan, Ph.D., Fordham University Press (forthcoming, 2023) This volume brings together, for the first time, scholars from the fields of history, sociology and religious studies to examine the ways the shrines to Mary interact with and inform various constituencies throughout the landscape of American Catholicism.

In addition to my scholarly work on Catholic shrines and sacred space, I write frequently on the often hidden religious dimensions of American political and cultural life. In the past several years I have contributed several dozen articles for such online and print publications as America Magazine, Sojourners Magazine, Commonweal, and Religion Dispatches on topics ranging from the Catholic Church’s stance on cremation, to problematic high school mascots. I believe firmly that our work as historians of Catholicism must inform broader public conversations about current issues and events, and I consider this public scholarship to be a major part of my own vocation as a scholar.

Should I be elected to the executive council, I would work to promote and support the scholarship of ACHA members and to advance the work of the ACHA in encouraging new scholarship in the field of American Catholic History as diligently as I can. Thank you for considering me for the executive council.