Institute for Forgiveness and Reconciliation to Hold Thanksgiving Workshop

"Thanksgiving and Forgiving: Lessons on Love from Learners in the Field"

Release Date: Monday, November 23, 2009

 PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Institute for Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Chestnut Hill College will sponsor the workshop, “Thanksgiving and Forgiving: Lessons on Love from Learners in the Field” on Monday, November 23, 2009 from 2-3:30 the Social Room, Fournier Hall. Chestnut Hill College is located at 9601 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia.

The workshop will include a keynote speech by Catherine Nerney, SSJ, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Her talk will discuss the theological study of forgiveness and reconciliation in the everyday lives and relationships of people, where forgiveness often takes place prior to any analysis or theorization. Her presentation will begin with narratives that demonstrate that the human capacity to forgive is grounded in the recognition of life as a gift.

In her talk, Dr, Nerney will also discuss how Thanksgiving week serves as fitting time to explore the vital connection between thanksgiving and forgiving. Using life stories as the primary context to witness forgiveness as a gift of release or inner freedom experienced in the “heart” of injured persons, Dr. Nerney will raise further questions for understanding and analysis. What responsibility does one bear to pass on the gift of forgiveness one has received? What myths concerning forgiveness need to be corrected in order to understand forgiveness better? How does one distinguish forgiveness from reconciliation and what role do repentance and apology play? What steps are essential to the forgiveness process? Who may forgive or be forgiven? What conditions in the human heart or community (personal or communal virtues) foster forgiveness as a way of life? Is forgiveness natural or unnatural? Can its healing and liberating potential of forgiveness extend beyond personal and interpersonal relationships to wider social and global issues?

A panel of faculty scholars will follow the presentation with perspectives from their fields of expertise that respond to these questions. Scott Browning, Ph.D., professor of psychology will consider empathy as a relational disposition that opens a pathway to forgiveness. Bob Meyer, Ph.D., professor of biology will introduce new studies in evolutionary biology that offer further insights into the nature of forgiveness. Sara Kitchen, J.D., professor of criminal justice will probe the important work of restorative justice as an expansion of the forgiveness and reconciliation process into communal and societal arenas. Rick Malloy, S.J., M.Div., S.T.L., Ph.D., assistant professor of cultural anthropology will take us back to concrete human experiences to demonstrate the graced character of forgiveness and reconciliation when things go wrong in the human situation of our lives and our world.

The Institute for Forgiveness and Reconciliation was launched this past year to be a learning laboratory for research and scholarship where forgiveness and reconciliation will be explored as alternatives to violence and conflict in our culture. Last spring John Dear, S.J., peace activist, lecturer, and author presented the inaugural lecture for the institute, speaking about his experiences and struggles to live a nonviolent life.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Catherine Nerney, SSJ, Ph.D. at 215.248.7099 or email