President Patricia McGuire announced that Trinity graduate Marie Dennis ’64, co-president of Pax Christi International, will receive an honorary doctor of letters and deliver the keynote address at Trinity’s Winter Graduation. “Marie Dennis is a true exemplar of the values of Trinity and the Sisters of Notre Dame in her work for social justice and peace around the world,” said President McGuire. “Pax Christi International promotes human rights, justice and peace amid some of the world’s fiercest conflicts.” Trinity’s third Winter Graduation will be held on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, at 5:00 pm in the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports. More than 200 associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees will be conferred on graduates who completed their degrees in August and December 2012.
Dennis has dedicated herself to pursuing peace, human rights and social justice across the national and around the world. Since 2007, she has served as co-president of Pax Christi International, a nonprofit, non-governmental Catholic peace movement working on a global scale on a wide variety of issues in the fields of human rights, human security, disarmament and demilitarization, just world order and religion and violent conflict.
Dennis recently stepped down after 15 years as director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, where she was responsible for bringing the voice and experience of the Maryknoll missionaries and their commitment to peace, social justice and the integrity of creation into policy discussions in the U.S. and other governments, the World Bank, the United Nations and the corporate world. In her farewell message she wrote, “Time and again, we have been told by national and international leaders how much they respect Maryknoll efforts to establish systems and structures that uproot poverty, promote human rights, respond to the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS, ensure access to food and water, recognize the dignity of women, make peace and respect Mother Earth.” She has worked for Maryknoll-affiliated organizations for more than 22 years.
Dennis is the author and co-author of several books on the spirituality of peace and social justice, including Diversity of Vocations (Catholic Spirituality for Adults); A Retreat With Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day: Walking with the Poor; Oscar Romero: Reflections on His Life and Writings; Saint Francis; and Saint Francis and the Foolishness of God. She presented the inaugural Sower’s Seed lecture at Trinity in 2005.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree from Trinity, Dennis holds a master’s degree in moral theology from Washington Theological Union and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Alvernia University.
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 serves on the national boards of JustFaith and the Jubilee USA Network; the steering committee of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network; the advisory committee of Orbis Books; 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.
Dennis 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, migration to the nuclear arms race. She has prepared and participated in panels and workshops at the United Nations and the U.S. Congress. She has visited many parts of the world, including countries in conflict and is a recognized leader among Catholics committed to peace, social justice and ecological integrity.
Dennis received the 2011 International Peacemaker Award from Pax Christi Metro New York; the 2008 Peacemaker Award from the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States; and the 2007 Annual Award from Franciscan Mission Service.
Read more about Trinity’s Winter Graduation on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.