St. Catherine of Siena: A Woman for Our Times

Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies presents Sister Nancy Murray, OP in a one-woman performance of St. Catherine of Siena: A Woman for Our Times, on Wednesday, November 9 at 7:30pm. The performance will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. The 2016 Catholicism and the Arts “Lecture” is free and open to the public.

Dominican Sister Nancy Murray, OP, will bring to life the 14th century saint, Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, using simple props, and with an Italian accent and traditional Dominican habit. Sister Nancy will dramatize vignettes of the life and times of the strong and passionate St. Catherine, including her childhood and influence on political and church leaders.

Transforming herself into St. Catherine of Siena, Sr. Nancy has educated audiences of all ages on five continents and in several languages, about the patroness of the Dominican Order, her devotion to and love for God and her message about God’s love for all. In this “new form of preaching” as she describes it, Sister Nancy combines her degree in theatre, her pastoral skills, talent and experience as a member of the Order of Preachers.

Sister Nancy describes St Catherine’s life as “thoroughly medieval and surprisingly modern.” St Catherine, originally known as Caterina Benincasa, was the 24th child born to her family in Siena Italy in 1347. She later became a lay member of the Dominican Order. Catherine was a nurse and a mystic; she cared for the sick, the poor, and provided spiritual direction to men and women in search of God. She was one of the most influential women of her time and visited with and wrote to popes and princes on social, political and religious issues and is credited with influencing Catholic leaders to end the Avignon papacy and return the leadership to Rome. Though she lacked formal education, Catherine is known for her many letters sent to men and women of all walks of life. The letters, filled with wisdom and spiritual guidance, were the fruit of her personal relationship with God. Catherine is best remembered for “The Dialogue,” which contains the intimate conversations or prayers that she and God shared with each other. Catherine died in 1380 at age 33.

Nancy Murray grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, one of nine children in the talented Murray family. After high school and a one-year stint at Rotary International, she joined the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She earned a Theater Degree and a Masters Degree in Pastoral Studies, and has worked tirelessly as a teacher of countless students of every age. She is most passionate about the inner city work she did for 15 years at a Latino and African American parish in Chicago.

The Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University was established in 2005 in part to present programming for and outreach to the local community, especially but not exclusively the local Catholic community. The Center works to promote an understanding and appreciation of the Catholic intellectual tradition on campus, and supports the academic component of “mission and identity” education and programming at Fairfield. The Center also administers a Fairfield undergraduate interdisciplinary academic minor program in Catholic Studies.