Founders Day Lecture

Celebrate Alvernia's great heritage during the annual Founders Day celebration on Thursday, September 15, at 4:00 p.m., in the Bernardine Franciscan Lecture Hall. This year's speaker will be Marie Dennis.

Ph: Marie DennisMarie Dennis is director of the Maryknoll Catholic Missioners’ Office for Global Concerns in Washington D.C., and New York, charged with bringing the global experience of Maryknoll missioners into the process of shaping public opinion in the United States and policies of the U.S. and other governments, the United Nations and international financial institutions. 

She is president of Pax Christi International, the global Catholic peace movement, a position she shares with Bishop Kevin Dowling from South Africa. She is the first lay person and the first woman to hold that position since Pax Christi was founded over 65 years ago. She is also a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace.

Dennis holds a master’s degree in moral theology from Washington Theological Union and is co-author or author of seven books, including St. Francis and the Foolishness of God and Diversity of Vocations.

She has visited many parts of the world, including countries in conflict, for Maryknoll and Pax Christi International, most recently Sudan, Iraq, Honduras, and Haiti. Earlier she participated in peace delegations to Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala and election observer delegations to Zimbabwe, Mexico, and Haiti. She is a recognized leader among Catholics committed to peace, social justice, and ecological integrity.   

Dennis now serves on the national board of JustFaith; the steering committee of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network; the advisory committee of Orbis Books; the coordinating committee of the Jubilee USA Network; and as a contributing editor to Sojourners magazine. She has previously served on the White House Task Force on Global Poverty and Development and the boards of the Washington Office on Latin America, the Latin America Working Group, the International Resource Center, and the Washington Office on Africa.

She has lectured at many universities and conferences over the past 35 years on topics ranging from Catholic social teaching to U.S. foreign policy, the global economy to global warming, and migration to the nuclear arms race. She has prepared and participated in panels and workshops at the United Nations and the U.S. Congress.

Dennis was a founder of the ecumenical Center for New Creation, dedicated to education and action for social justice and peace; the Washington, D.C. Area Community Investment Fund, which makes loans for affordable housing and small businesses in low-income communities; Assisi Community, committed to shared simple living and work for social transformation; and the Jubilee USA campaign for cancellation of overwhelming and unjust debt of impoverished countries. 

She received the 2008 Peacemaker Award from the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States, the 2007 Annual Award from Franciscan Mission Service, and the 2005 Oscar Romero Award from Mercyhurst College.

Dennis is a lay woman, a mother of six, and a grandmother. A commitment to simple living and social justice led Dennis and her family to live on and work a 65 acre organic farm for nine years and to live in an inner city intentional community, Assisi Community.

Start Date: 9/15/2011 5:00 pm
End Date: 9/15/2011 7:00 pm
Location: Bernardine Franciscan Conference Center
Price: Free and open to the public
Sponsor: Holleran Center for Community Engagement and the O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, & Public Service

The Holleran Center at 610-790-1925 with questions.

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.

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