Notre Dame College President's Lecture Provides Insights on Suffering from Religious Traditions

Notre Dame College alumna Sr. Mary Karita Ivancic, SND, D.Min., has been selected to present the College President’s Lecture in 2019.

Ivancic, an associate professor of theology at Notre Dame and 1971 graduate of the College, will discuss “Finding Meaning in the Mystery of Suffering: Insights from Asian and Abrahamic Religious Traditions” on Tuesday, April 2, in the Great Room of the Notre Dame Administration Building. The annual invitation-only scholarship event is sponsored by the Office of the President and the Faculty Affairs Development Committee.

During her lecture, Ivancic will provide key insights from Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on two foundational questions: “Why do we suffer?” and “How can we best deal with suffering?”  Her proposal was selected from multiple submissions that underwent a blind review by a panel of external scholars.

In this year’s competition, the first runner-up was “Blockchain Technology – Is It Our Future?” by Natalie Strouse, M.B.A., associate professor of accounting and chair of the Division of Business at the College, and Sandra Grassman, M.B.A., associate professor of management information systems at Notre Dame.

The second runner-up in 2019 was Michele Polak, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and director of composition at the College, and her submission “Girlhood  in  Conflict: The  Construction of  Self  in Girls’  War-Time  Diaries.”

Ivancic also was selected to give the Notre Dame President’s Lecture in 2011. That year she presented “One God, Three Quests: The Journey of Jews, Christians and Muslims Toward Monotheism,” which explored how each of the Abrahamic traditions has come to embrace monotheism and traced the unique quest for the One God undertaken by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Meaning in the Mystery of Suffering

According to Ivancic, suffering is a universal human experience that comes in many forms, both physical and psychological.

“For thousands of years the great religions of the world have wrestled with these challenging ultimate questions,” she wrote in her submission. “No wonder that from time immemorial human beings have questioned the source, purpose, and meaning of this painful reality that complicates lives and erodes or even destroys happiness.”

In addition to discussing why humans experience pain and tribulation through the lens of the “great religions,” Ivancic is expected to speak to why bad things happen to good people, especially innocent children. She also will address connections between human choice and human suffering and what role, if any, God plays in the mystery of suffering.

Expertise of the Faculty Scholar

In her role with the Notre Dame Department of Theology, Ivancic has led the Eleanor Malburg Eastern Churches Seminar at Notre Dame for the past five years. The annual symposium is provided by the College in collaboration with Orthodox, Byzantine and Roman Catholic churches with the hope that knowledge and ecumenical dialogue will lead to greater understanding and mutual respect.

Ivancic recently completed a theology text on world religions’ responses to ultimate questions with Sr. M. Kathleen Glavich, a 1972 alumna of Notre Dame. The book is in publication with the Professors Choice Division of St. Mary’s Press.

A 1971 alumna of Notre Dame, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in music education and German, Ivancic earned two master’s degrees, one in music education from Indiana University and one in theology from John Carroll University, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from St. Mary’s Seminary & Graduate School of Theology.

Ivancic first joined the College in 1995 as director of the Notre Dame Choir and became an assistant professor in 2001. She is director emerita of choral studies and a regular presenter at the Notre Dame Faculty Research Symposium. She received the College’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 2005 and a Notre Dame Academic Support Center Faculty Award in 2008.

About the President’s Lecture

The Notre Dame President’s Lecture, established in 2008, is an ongoing venue for the College’s faculty to share their scholarly activity with one another and other members of the campus community. Each spring, faculty members are invited to deliver a presentation about a topic in their current research or of enduring professional interest to them.

March 2019

About Notre Dame College

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