Susan Bigelow Reynolds

Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies
Susan Bigelow Reynolds
Phone: 404.727.7727
    • PhD, Boston College, 2018
    • MTS, Boston College, 2013
    • MEd, University of Notre Dame, 2011
    • BA, University of Notre Dame, 2009

    On research leave for the 2022-23 academic year.

    Dr. Susan Bigelow Reynolds is a Catholic theologian and ethnographer whose research examines the intersection of ecclesiology and lived Catholicism in contexts of diversity, marginality, and suffering. Her forthcoming monograph, People Get Ready: Ritual, Solidarity, and Lived Ecclesiology in Catholic Roxbury (Fordham University Press, 2023), draws on years of parish-based ethnographic research in Boston to examine the question of community in a racially and culturally diverse church, arguing for the retrieval of solidarity as an ecclesial virtue. Her work has also examined public ritual, urban Catholic practice, parish closures and congregational change, migration, motherhood and pregnancy loss, and the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis.

    Reynolds’ work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, volumes, and public-facing venues including American Catholic StudiesNew Theology ReviewExchangeAmerica, and The Atlantic. She is a contributing writer for Commonweal magazine and is a frequent contributor to national conversations on Catholicism and public life in the media, including National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour, NBC, and CNN.

    Prior to theological studies, Reynolds taught middle school in Brownsville, Texas. She has more than a decade of experience in campus, parish, and liturgical music ministry. Reynolds is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America, where she helps to administer the Practical Theology session and serves on the Women’s Consultation in Constructive Theology Steering Committee, the College Theology Society, and the American Academy of Religion. She is a board member of the Aquinas Center of Theology and the Candler representative to the board of the Hispanic Summer Program.

    Selected Publications


      “People Get Ready: Ritual, Solidarity, and Lived Ecclesiology in Catholic Roxbury, New York: Fordham University Press, 2023

      Chapters and Articles

      "On Tradition and the Passion Play," Commonweal, March 203

      "'This is not nostalgia:' Contesting the Politics of Sentimentality in Boston's 2004 Parish Closure Protests," U.S. Catholic Historian ​41, no. 1 (2023): 71-92.

      "Selfhood and Its Limits," contribution to Syndicate Network forum on Danielle Tumminio Hansen's Conceiving Family. February 15, 2023.

      "Solidarity as Slow Conversion," Missiology 51, no. 1 (2023): 31–45.

      "Book review: Anna Rowlands, Towards a Politics of Communion: Catholic Social Teaching in Dark Times," in Scottish Journal of Theology (2023)

      "Are We Protagonists Yet?," in Commonweal, 149, no. 11: 10-11, December 2022

      “The Paradox of Public Scholarship,” in Commonweal 149, no. 8: 9, September 2022

      "Selva J. Raj, Solidarity and the Language of Ritual," in All the Ends of the Earth: Challenge and Celebration of Global Catholicism, Orbis, 2020

      "Latino/a/x/o Christian Theologies," in The Oxford Handbook of Latino/a Christianities in the United States, Oxford University Press, 2020

      "Beyond Unity In Diversity: Race, Culture, and Communion Ecclesiology in U.S. Catholicism," American Catholic Studies, vol. 130, no. 4, 2019

      "Fieldwork in Ecclesial Borderlands: Culture, Community, and Belonging in a Multiethnic Boston Parish," Exchange, vol. 48, no. 3, July 19, 2019

      "Vigil-Keeping," in Of Womb and Tomb: Prayer in Time of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth, GIA, January 01, 2019

      "The Integration of Hispanic Parishioners in U.S. Catholic parishes with Hispanic Ministry: Results from a National Survey," Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, vol. 46, no. 4, January 17, 2019

      "Cultivating Young Hispanic Catholic Leaders," Our Catholic Children: Ministry with Hispanic Youth and Young Adults/Nuestros jovenes catolicos: Pastoral Juvenil Hispana en los Estados Unidos, 2018

      "Ministering With Authenticity," C21 Resources: A Hope to Share: Young Adults and Our Church, 2018

      Spanish to English Translation, "Medellín: A Spiritual Experience," in The Grace of Medellín: History, Theology, and Legacy: Reflections on the Significance of Medellín for the Church in the United States, Convivium, 2018

      "Catholic Liturgy and Prenatal Loss: Ritual, Ambiguity, and the Miscarrying Body," in Liturgy + Power, Orbis, 2017

      "From the Site of the Empty Tomb: Approaching the Hidden Grief of Pregnancy Loss." New Theology Review, vol. 28, no. 2, 2016

      "'For there is still a vision:' Metz's Apocalyptic Eschatology and the Practice of Lament," Lumen et Vita, vol. 5, no. 1, 2015

      "'I AM has sent me to you:' How Thomas Aquinas' understanding of the divine names illuminates the way in which he reconciles impassibility and compassion in God," Lumen et Vita, vol. 3, no. 1, 2013

      Selected Awards

      Scholarly Writing and Publishing Fund Grant, Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, Emory University, 2019

      Research Grant, Brewer Fund for Communities and Congregations Research, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 2018

      Doctoral Fellowship, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, 2013-2017

      AmeriCorps Education Awards Program Educational Grant, 2011

      Alliance for Catholic Education Teaching Fellowship, University of Notre Dame, 2009-2011

      Lou Holtz Leadership Full Scholarship Award, University of Notre Dame, 2008

      International Research Grant for research in Uganda, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame, 2008

      Kellogg Institute for International Studies International Scholars Program, University of Notre Dame, 2006-2008

      Commonweal, "Unity, not Uniformity" (January 26, 2023)

      National Catholic Reporter, "Faulting of retired Pope Benedict's handling of abuse cases sparks sharp reactions" (January 20, 2022)

      Commonweal, "Going Gray" (November 1, 2021)

      Commonweal, "Loving Herself, Regardless" (August 4, 2021)

      America, "Was Joe Biden preaching Catholic social teaching to the Congress last night? Supporters think so." (April 29, 2021)

      Commonweal, "No More Waiting" (April 13, 2021)

      Commonweal, "A People, Not an Army" (January 27, 2021)

      CNN, "Quarantine life is starting to feel like a real Lent" (April 5, 2020)

      The Commonweal Podcast, "The American Parish Today, part I" (March 27, 2020)

      Commonweal, "Way Stations for a Pilgrim Church" (March 26, 2020)

      The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Atlanta’s new archbishop: ‘I will have to walk in my own shoes’" (March 5, 2020)

      National Catholic Reporter, "US gun 'idolatry' demands more prophetic church stand, some Catholics say" (June 11, 2019)

      America: The Jesuit Review, "Pope Francis calls us to build bridges. Let's start in our parishes." (June 3, 2019)

      The Atlantic, "‘Everybody Wants a Revolution, but Nobody Wants to Do the Dishes’ Critics of the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church should understand how institutional change actually takes place." (May 23, 2019)

      National Catholic Reporter, "Pope names Gregory, designer of US bishops' abuse procedures, as Washington archbishop" (April 4, 2019)

      90.5 WESA's The Confluence, "What's At Stake For Pennsylvanians As Bishops Gather In Rome To Discuss Global Sexual Assault Crisis" (February 21, 2019)

      PBS NewsHour, "Amid more revelations of Catholic Church abuse and cover-up, survivors galvanize" (December 26, 2018)

      National Catholic Reporter, "Theologians Face Challenges When Entering the Public Square" (September 29, 2018)

      Church Life Today on Redeemer Radio, discussing transformations in the U.S. Catholic Church (September 1, 2018)

      NPR’s All Things Considered, "One Congregation’s Question of Faith Following the Pennsylvania Clergy Report" (August 20, 2018)

      WBUR’s On Point, "Can the Catholic Church Survive Another Sex Abuse Scandal?" (August 21, 2018)

      The Atlantic, "Catholics Are Desperate for Tangible Reforms on Clergy Sex Abuse" (August 22, 2018)

      America Magazine, "What happened when a dad challenged his priest during Mass about the sex abuse crisis" (August 22, 2018)

      CNN, "For Catholic parents, choosing to raise kids in a church marred by sex abuse is ‘a painful thing" (August 27, 2018)

      WFAE Charlotte Talks (NPR), "Grappling with the Latest Allegations of Abuse in the Catholic Church"(August 30, 2018)

      Daily Theology, "Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners, and Lay Leaders on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States" (August 17, 2018)

      Selected Courses

      Introduction to Practical Theology

      Catholicism in America: Migration, Transnationalism, and Devotion

      Methods of Social and Congregational Analysis