Distinguished Speakers’ Program

  • Food for thought
  • Intellectual & spiritual nourishment
  • Growing in faith
  • Giving & receiving knowledge
  • Learning from others
  • Responsibility for your own development
NFI is proud of its Distinguished Speakers’ series, which has brought many scholars, writers, and thinkers to share and inspire Catholic Intellectualism on secular campuses. It is the job of the Distinguished Speakers’ Committee to seek outstanding theologians and/or philosophers whose work is in accord with a full range of Catholic thought. Our intent continues to be to offer speakers who will present topics of current interest. We want our programs to be informative, relevant and smart. Sometimes controversial—but always with creative thought—which will challenge and excite audiences to examine the principles and concepts of Christianity in new and illuminating ways.

As part of its Distinguished Speakers’ series, NFI traditionally hosts a Fr. Elmer Moore Speaker in his honor. These lectures include topics in keeping with the kind of thought which inspired Father Moore’s own lectures and books, including current interpretations of theological traditions, the essential meanings of the Incarnation, modern interpretations of Thomism, the mystery of three persons in one God, insights into the structures and historiography of the Scriptures, and the foundations of Moral Theology.  You can view the Fr. Moore Lecture series here.


  • Thomas Reese, SJ: Religious Freedom, At Home and Abroad. Presented in Lexington KY at Christ the King Cathedral and at KSU

  • Joy Schroeder, PhD: on the Communion dimension of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue on 10/8/17 as part of the Commemoration of the Protestant Reformation, a month-long program supported by the Catholic Diocese of Lexington and the local Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

  • Professor Gary Agee: “Raising A Cry For Justice” Daniel A. Rudd and the Catholic Church in the Age of Jim Crow

  • Professor Mark Osler: Jesus on Death Row: Examining the Death Penalty Today

  • Lisa Wagner-Carollo: Deep Listening – a play about end of life issues
  • Margaret Nutting Ralph, Ph.D.: “Nourished & Ruled by Scripture”

  • Carlye Thacker, Ph.D.: “This Land is Home to Me: the Search for Justice for Appalachia”
  • Fr. Ray Collins: “A Bishop Should be the Husband of One Wife (1Timothy 3:2): The New Testament & Priestly Celibacy”

  • John Garvey, President of Catholic University of America: “Religion & Academic Freedom”

  • Fr. Robert Barron: “John Henry Cardinal Newman”
  • Peter Steinfels: “What Catholicism will we Choose for the 21st Century?”

  • Dr. Jerry Sumney: “Women in the Churches & the Ministry of Paul”
  • A Production of Still Point Theater Collective: “Strong Women”
  • Rev. John Dear, S.J.: “Following the Nonviolent Jesus in a World of Violence & War”

  • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: “New Monasticism & the Resurrection of American Christianity”
  • Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: “Iraq: Moral Analysis”

  • Fr. Francis X. Clooney: “The Gift & Challenge of Hinduism: What We Can Learn, & How It can Change Catholism”
  • David G. Hunter: Priestly Celibacy in the Catholic Church: Origins and Early History”
  • Joan M. Nuth: “Julian of Norwich: Medieval Woman, Mystic, Theologian”

  • Dr. John F. Haught: “Evolution & Faith: What Is at Stake?”
  • Fr. Joseph P. Komonchak: “The Theological Vision of Joseph Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI”

  • Dr. E. Glenn Hinson: “The Message of Thomas Merton for Today”
  • Sr. Tracey Matthia Dougas, fsp: “Even in the Dark: Encountering God in Popular  Movies”
  • Still Point Theater Collective: “The Hermit in New York”

  • Sr. Christine Vladimiroff, OSB: “The Church in America Today: From Crisis to Community”
  • Fr. James Bacik: “Facing the Challenges, Seizing the Opportunities”
  • Dr. Tatha Wiley: “Leaving the Snake Behind: Original Sin Outside the Myth”
  • Kathy Kelly: “Nonviolence: A Gospel Mandate”

  • Fr. Donald Cozzens: “Sacred Silence: Denial & the Crisis in the Church”
  • Fr. Robert Barron: “I Have Come to Light a Fire on Earth…” 
  • Luke Timothy Johnson: “Learning the Human Jesus: History or Literature?”

  • Christina M. Puchalski, MD, MS: “The Roll of Spirituality in Health & Illness”
  • David J. O’Brien: “Shared Responsibility: The Role of the Laity in the Life & Work of the American Catholic Church
  • Eugene Kennedy: “The Unhealed Wound: The Church & Human Sexuality”
  • Marty Haugen: “Music: Gateway to the Sacred”

  • Fr. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.: “School of Assassins”
  • Dorothy Irvin: “Men & Women Prophets in the Bible” & “Women’s Work in the Bible: How Bedouin Women & Archaeology Help Us Understand It.”
  • Lisa Wagner: “Haunted by God: The Life of Dorothy Day”
  • Prof. Lawrence Cunningham: “The Interaction of Catholic Theology & American  Culture: Impact on the Future of the Church” & “The Future of the Church.”
  • Archbishop John R. Quinn

  • Theresa Miller: “Ask Me Why I’m Catholic”
  • Dennis O’Brien: “From Cincinnati to Brooklyn: Sensational Art & The Quest for Truth” & “Art, Truth, & Religion”
  • Most Reverend Francis E. George, O.M.I.: “The Future of the Church” 
  • Elizabeth-Anne Stewart: “Prodigal Father, Persistent Mother”

  • Father Michael Palud: “The Challenge of Self-Giving in Today’s World”
  • Rev. Perry C. Bramlett: “The Genius of C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity for Today’s Christian”
  • Father Thomas Keating: “The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”
  • Bob Miller: “Martin Luther King & the Biblical Vision of Justice”
  • Michael Kinnamon: “Jubilee 2000:  Debt Relief for the Poor as a Christian      Discipleship,”
  • Rabbi D. Uriel Smith: “Crisis & Response: A Jewish Perspective of the Jubilee Year”
  • Jose M. Sanches, Prof. Jeremy Popkin, Prof. Michael Desch: “Was Pius XII Really Hitler’s Pope?”
  • Father Diarmuid O¢ Murchu, MSH: “When Theology Takes a Quantum Leap!”

  • Matthew Fox: “Ecology, Religion and Spirituality” & “Creation Spirituality: A Movement in a Time of Despair”
  • Bernard Cooke: “Eucharist & Social Justice”
  • Sister Helen Prejean: “Women in the Church”
  • Robert McClory: “From Murder to Grace: Forgiveness in a Vengeful Culture”

  • Bishop Kenneth Untener: “Christianity in the Third Millennium”
  • Fr. George Clements: “Love the Addict-Hate the Addiction”
  • Clayton King: “The Greatest Thing in the World” 

  • Sister Frances B. O’Connor, CSC: “Ecclesial Women: Images of God?: A Trust Betrayed”
  • Jim Douglass: “Faith & Assassination: MLK, JFK, RFK & Malcolm X”
  • Colman McCarthy: “How to Be An Effective Peacemaker” 

  • Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton: “Fanning the Flame of Non Violence”
  • Margaret Steinfels: “Religion & the Mass Media”
  • Mary Louise Sullivan: “Mother Cabrini’s Response to Immigrants 1889‑1917″

  • Sr. Mary Luke Tobin: “Spirituality for the 90’s”
  • Edwina Gateley: “One Woman’s Faith Journey”

  • Rev. Patrick W. Collins: “A Spiritual Concert: Thomas Merton: Man, Monk & Myth with Music”
  • Joe Hallett: “Singing the Mighty Power of God in the Midst of AIDS”
  • Fr. James Conner: “Life & Times of Thomas Merton”

  • Sr. Joan Chittister: “Woman: Icon, Rebel, Saint”
  • Dr. Michael Kinnamon: “Does the Ecumenical Movement Have a Future?” 
  • Jacqueline Wexler: “Holy MOTHER the Church”

  • Sr. Kathleen Harkins: “Tapestries of our Lives”
  • Fr. Al Fritsch, S.J.: “Down to Earth Spirituality: An Environmental Approach to    Renewing the Earth”
  • Fr. Richard McCormick, S.J.: “Bioethical Problems of the Nineties”

  • Dr. Robert N. Bellah: “The Church & the Recovery of Community in America”
  • Sandra M. Schneiders, I.H.M.: “No One Sews a New Patch on an Old Garment:  The Church & Feminism”
  • E. Joseph Holland: “The Spirituality of Regeneration:  Renewing the Face of the Earth amidst Ecological, Social & Spiritual Degeneration”

  • Monika Hellwig: “A New Era of Christian Hope”
  • Richard Rohr, O.F.M.: “Action & Contemplation”
  • Donald Senior, C.P.: “Jesus the Physician”

  • Colman McCarthy: “End Violence by Teaching Peace”   
  • Fr. Charles Curran: “Faithful Dissent”   
  • Diane Fassel, SL: “The Addictive Organization”  
  • Fr. M. Basil Pennington: “Recovering Our Contemplative Dimension: Finding the True Meaning of Life”

  • Bruce Nieli, C.S.P.: “American Metanoia:  The New Awakening of the Spirit of    Christianity”
  • Barbara Fiand, SND: “Cultural Development: A Call to Conversion” 
  • Rev. Ed Beck: “The Gospel According to St. Adolph & St. Harry”
  • Rev. John Shea: “Faith & Storytelling”

  • Fr. Andrew Greeley: “An Evening with Andrew Greeley”
  • Fr. Bruce Ritter: “Children Should Not Be Bought or Sold”
  • Tim Foley: “God is my Quarterback”
  • Harrison Hickman: “Voters Concept of Right & Wrong”

  • Michael Novak: “The New Order of the World”
  • John Studenmaier, S.J.: “Technology, USA Style: Impacts on Faith Life”
  • Rev. Dr. J. Bryan Hehir: “Morality & Foreign Policy: An Old Topic With a New Edge”
  • Anthony Padavano: “Merton:  Conflict, Contradiction, Convergence”

  • Mortimer Adler, Ph.D.: “Minds & Brains”
  • Alvin A. Illig, C.S.P.: “Evangelization”
  • Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P.: “Biblical Prophecy for Prophets Today”
  • Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D.: “Catholic Students and the Secular University”

  • Robert Drinan, S.J.: “Beyond the Nuclear Freeze”
  • Daniel Berrigan, S.J.: “The Deterrent Nation vs. the Disarmed Conscience”
  • Rosemary Ruether, Ph.D.: “Sexism & God Talk ‑ Towards a Feminist Theology”
  • John Powell, S.J.: “A New Life through a New Vision”
  • Rev. Richard P. McBrien: “American Catholicism: Looking Toward the 21st Century”
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