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Sister shares her calling to Theology

Faith and Service
May 31, 2024

Woman of faith

by Briianna Hiers

Sister LaReine-Marie Mosley, Ph.D., was not your average teenager. During her teens, she had already decided to venture into a life of religious practice. 

Celebrating 40 years since joining the Sisters of Notre Dame, Gold & Blue magazine sat down with Mosley, who is the Miller Chair in Human Dignity and Associate Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at ƵƬ’s University.

Sister LaReine-Marie Mosley, Ph.D., visits Assumption Chapel.

She discussed what led her to a faith-filled path to womanist theology, which refers to a theology that gives a voice to the experiences of Black women regarding race, religion and how both themes tie together.

Q: You said your family lived in New Rochelle, New York, but supported your interest in joining a high school program in Toledo, Ohio, for girls interested in becoming sisters. Can you share why your mother supported your move to Toledo, Ohio, when you were only 14?

A: My mother was religious, and her faith was especially important to her. My mom trusted that I had strong discernment, and the door was always open if I wanted to come home. Therefore, she supported me in relocating to Ohio for the program. At Notre Dame Academy, I learned a lot and enjoyed being in a solely female community. I was only 14 years old and became a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame upon graduating high school. I have remained a member for 40 years. We have other Notre Dame academies in the U.S. that sisters of the congregation sponsor.

Q:  How would you describe your area of expertise, womanist theology and womanism, to someone hearing about it for the first time?

A: Womanism is about Black women, how they have survived and how they understand God. When we reach back into history — during the time of slavery — and look at the horrific experiences that Black enslaved women had to endure, we marvel at the faith they had to persevere. Womanist theologians delve into the past and use resources, such as slave narratives, literature and social sciences, to understand how these Black women could negotiate the circumstances of their life experiences throughout history and today.

Q: What sparked your research interest in womanist theology?

A: When I earned my master’s degree at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, I was first exposed to womanist theology and had some fantastic professors who challenged me and stretched me to think in new ways about God and to get in touch with what it means to be an African American woman.

Q: What do you hope your students take away from the courses that you lead?

A: I hope my students have a greater openness to people who are different than they are and that they listen when people talk about their experiences. My teachings inspire my students to allow people to speak for themselves and articulate their experiences without questioning the validity of their sense of self, how they see the world, or the experiences of underrepresented racial groups.

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