Joining the Revolution in Theology: The College Theology Society, 1954-2004

By Van Allen, Rodger | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Joining the Revolution in Theology: The College Theology Society, 1954-2004


Van Allen, Rodger, The Catholic Historical Review


Joining the Revolution in Theology: The College Theology Society, 1954-2004. By Sandra Yocum Mize. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 2007. Pp.xii, 315. $39.95.)

This was not an easy book to write. How does one capture the story indeed the history of any academic professional society? There is organizational life, reflected mostly in minutes of meetings; and academic research and discourse, expressed in meetings and the group's academic journal.The College Theology Society (CTS) did not have a journal through its first twenty years, until Horizons, its meaty semiannual journal, emerged in 1974. It did, however, have proceedings from its annual meeting, which evolved into a thematic annual publication that was shaped by the theme of the annual meeting, but also at times included some material not presented at the meeting.There was also the possibility of oral history, since some founders and many key leaders of this group were available.

Given these choices, Mize, making good use of the CTS archival materials at The Catholic University of America, has opted to feature the founding and ongoing organizational life in her five odd-numbered chapters and the theological dialogue for each decade in her five even-numbered chapters.The theological chapters focus mostly on that decade's annual volumes and ignore the material in Horizons, which understandably lacked the thematic unity of the annual publications. There is a loss in setting aside that material, but given the vastness of her task, her choice was a prudent one. She also confined any oral history to a single interview with the remarkable Father Gerard S. Sloyan, who was a founder and participant throughout the life of the CTS and remains active in the organization today. His input, however, was clearly not in any way controlling of Mize's work.

The CTS began as the Society of Catholic College Teachers of Sacred Doctrine (SCCTSD), largely through the drive and determination of Sister M. Rose Eileen Masterman, C.S.C., a religion professor at Dunbarton CoEege. The formation of this group is the major marker in the effort to professionalize theology in Catholic higher education. …

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