The St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought seeks to promote a Catholic intellectual presence and community at the University of Virginia, to make the richness of the Catholic tradition of thought and action available for public consideration by all, and to contribute to Catholic intellectual and cultural life in Virginia and the United States.
Who we are
The St. Anselm Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization directed by a voluntary Board of Directors composed of Catholic faculty, alumni of the University of Virginia, and friends of the Institute's mission and activities. Several officers and a voluntary UVA Faculty Steering Committee shape and guide the Institute’s activities throughout the year.
The mission of the St. Anselm Institute consists of three complementary commitments. The Institute exists to deepen the Catholic intellectual presence and community at the University of Virginia. Second, we are committed to making the Catholic tradition of thought and action available for public consideration by interested individuals at the University and in the local community. Third, like the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago and other similar organizations, the St. Anselm Institute seeks to serve as a model for reinvigorating Catholic intellectual networks and cultural life among faculty and academic communities. Today, a large majority of Catholic undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S. attend secular universities and colleges—according to estimates, as many as 80 percent of all Catholic students. As an independent yet faculty-based organization, the St. Anselm Institute offers a structure and mission designed to help bridge the intellectual and cultural spaces that exist between secular universities and colleges, their Catholic student and workforce populations, and Catholic university parishes, Newman Centers, and Catholic student ministry groups.
Our Events and Activities
The St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought runs a full calendar of events and activities over the course of the academic year. All of our programs are offered to the University community free of charge. In 2001, the St. Anselm Institute started its popular annual public lecture series at the University of Virginia. This series has included many widely respected Catholic speakers, including among others, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Mother Mary Assumpta Long, Stephen Barr, John Cavadini, Bill Cavanaugh, Tony Esolen, Robert George, Dana Gioia, Brad Gregory, Fr. Sidney Griffith, Paul Griffiths, Russell Hittinger, William Mahrt, Paul Mariani, John Noonan, Lamin Sanneh, Hon. Antonin Scalia, Eleonore Stump, George Weigel, and Carol Zaleski--for a complete list, see our Past Lectures. These speakers have enriched our audiences at the University with Catholic intellectual perspectives on a variety of timely and timeless topics in theology, philosophy, medicine, science, literature, architecture, art, music, ethics, and religious life.
Beyond our University lecture series, the St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought has broadened our efforts to build additional relationships between UVA faculty and the University’s student and workforce populations. The Institute has supported several successful faculty-led seminar and reading groups at the University of Virginia: the first study group focused on the writings of St. Anselm; a second group, studied the Conciliar document Lumen Gentium; a third, the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien; a fourth group, Lumen Veritatis, covered a series of topics from 2004-07. More recently, our faculty-led study groups have convened to discuss and to debate recent books with Notre Dame historian Brad Gregory and DePaul theologian Bill Cavanaugh. We also hosted a very lively colloquium on the history of the Church's thinking on the death penalty with Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 2008, the Institute launched its highly successful faculty/student lunch seminar series on the Doctors of the Church, which continues to meet throughout the academic year. In 2006, the Institute resurrected the grand tradition of the academical dinner at the University, holding our first and now annual fall faculty/student dinner at the University of Virginia. In 2007, we additionally convened our first of several annual Lenten faculty and friends of the Institute retreat. These retreats were led by invited academic experts on the topics of Christian humanism, and the history of Catholic Social Teaching. Our own distinguished University of Virginia Professor Robert Louis Wilken led the 2009 faculty retreat on Early Christian thought on the Love of God; and former Catholic Philosophical Association President Tom Russman offered two thought-provoking lectures on Scriptural senses of the idea of truth at the final 2010 retreat.
Our commitment to promoting the fullness and range of the Catholic tradition of thinking has yielded additional St. Anselm Institute events at the University like our Friday Night Film Series, a Dante Divine Comedy reading group, cosponsored events with the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Center for Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies, as well as with numerous University departments. In 2011, the Institute also brought in the entire Catholic University of America Chamber Choir for an exhilerating and free concert at nearby St. Paul's Memorial Church. In 2007, the Institute extended its educational focus beyond the University and the local community by publicly and annually encouraging our audiences and members to become sponsors of a Catholic school building effort for St. Michel Parish in Saltadère, Haiti—an ongoing project endorsed by two local Catholic parishes and the Diocese of Richmond.
Thank you for your interest in and support of the St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought.