Sister Mary Boys, dean of academic affairs and professor at Union Theological Seminary, joined Holy Names University as a Visiting Sister Fellow in March. Sr. Mary is the first participant in HNU’s fellowship program for Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, which promotes the mission and charism of the SNJM on campus. Her visit is supported by a Lowell Berry Foundation grant.
During her visit, Sr. Mary moderated a panel about the influence of Vatican II on Catholic higher education, participated in a meet and greet with the campus community, and lectured students on a variety of topics, including troubling biblical texts, Christianity and women, and racial discrimination and the Holocaust.
A noted theologian on Jewish-Christian relations, Sr. Mary also presented “Redeeming Our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations Between Christians and Jews” at a
public event held in McLean Chapel. She argued that Catholics have an ethical obligation to acknowledge their historical role in promoting anti-Semitism, and that this hostility can be tied to how the New Testament has been interpreted by Christians.
“I am going to step back and ask what the consequences have been over time,” Sr. Mary said at the March 19 event. “I am going to suggest that the way that the New Testament tells the story about Jesus . . . has provided us with raw materials for hostility to Jews. It doesn’t mean that the New Testament itself is the great problem; it is what is done with the raw materials.”
She suggested that Catholics consider Jesus’ crucifixion in the context of that time period, when the Roman Empire crucified many as a way to assert their power and to inspire fear in slaves and peasants.
Sr. Mary has published more than 80 articles, and is the author of five books including
Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other (Skylight Paths Publishing, 2006), with Sara S. Lee. Her forthcoming book, Redeeming Our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations between Jews and Christians, will be published this year.
She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University in a joint program with Union Theological Seminary. Sr. Mary has received honorary doctorates from the Hebrew College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Catholic Theological Union, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Gratz College, and was the recipient of the Sternberg Award from the International Council of Christians and Jews in 2005.