Story Provided by Dr. Kimberly Lymore, Director of the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at CTU and Convener of the BCTS

Since its inception, Catholic Theological Union has had strong ties to the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS). The BCTS’ mission is to foster an ethical community of scholarly dialogue within the Black Catholic experience by a commitment to the fundamental humanity of all persons as seen in the plurality of cultural, ethnic, and religious experiences that seeks the development of a theology that reflects our interdisciplinary reality. CTU is proud to support the work of the BCTS, and shares in its commitment to interdisciplinary and intercultural work.

The Symposium was established in 1978 by Rev. Thaddeus Posey, OFM Cap and convened for periodic conferences sponsored by the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. The proceedings of that first conference were published as Theology: A Portrait in Black. A second meeting occurred in 1979 around the theme of the Nguzo Saba, but those papers were never published, and the symposium did not meet again until it was re-convened in 1991 by Dr. Jamie T. Phelps, OP. The year prior, in 1990, Dr. Phelps started the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Dr. Kimberly Lymore, Director

The participants of the third meeting agreed that the Symposium should become a national Roman Catholic interdisciplinary theological society which meets annually. The Symposium, with one exception, has met annually since 1991. In 1992, Dr. Phelps was elected Convener of the BCTS and served in that capacity until 2001. 

The Executive Board of the BCTS maintains an active collaborative relationship with CTU. Dr. Kimberly Lymore, current Convener, graduated from CTU with her Masters of Divinity and currently serves as Director of the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program. Dr. Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, who recently completed her terms on the BCTS Executive Board, is the Director of the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at St. Xavier in New Orleans. Dr. Dorsey Bellow received her DMin from CTU in 2005, and has taught liturgy in the Summer@CTU program.

Many members of the BCTS – Fr. Bryan Massingale, Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, and Dr. Diana Hayes, to name a few – have been guest lecturers at CTU’s Annual Tolton Lecture. Dr. C. Vanessa White, Associate Professor of Spirituality and Ministry and the former Director of the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program, instituted the annual Tolton Lecture at Catholic Theological Union in 2000, with Dr. Cyprian Davis giving the inaugural lecture. Maurice Nutt, CSsR is a former BCTS Convener and a consultant on the cause of Thea Bowman for sainthood for the Diocese of Jackson. Dr. Nutt graduated from CTU in 1989 with a Master of Divinity in Word and Worship, has taught classes in preaching in the Summer@CTU program, and has been a Tolton Lecturer. The current BCTS Co-Convenor and former Treasurer, dr. timone davis, is a CTU alumna, receiving her MDiv in 2002 and her DMin in 2011. Dr. davis is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago, and in 2021, was the first Tolton alumna to give the Annual Tolton Lecture. This year, Dr. Nathaniel Samuel, Assistant Professor of Liberation Theology at the Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Chicago, and Secretary to the BCTS gave the Annual Tolton Lecture.

Catholic Theological Union has hosted the BCTS annual meeting twice: In 2008 in conjunction with Loyola University, and once again in 2014.