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Eternal Life: What Is It? Why Does it Matter? What Can We Hope For?  

Sunlight breaking through the cloudsOn Tuesday, December 8th, the Center for Catholic Studies will host the Toth-Lonergan Endowed Chair Lecture "Eternal Life: What Is It? Why Does it Matter? What Can We Hope For?" delivered by J. Michael Stebbins, Ph.D., the 2020-21 Toth-Lonergan Visiting Professor. The talk is sponsored by the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute and is a live event that will be made available through the Microsoft Teams platform. In this lecture, Dr. Stebbins will address how belief in "the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come" is a bedrock element of Christian faith. Drawing on the work of Thomas Aquinas, Bernard Lonergan, and other Catholic theologians, Dr. Stebbins will explore what the Catholic tradition means by "eternal life" and why the language and images we often use to describe it fall short of capturing its magnificent reality. He will examine how grasping eternal life to be the destiny of human beings enables us to know ourselves more fully and to care more about our present life. 

Most recently Dr. Stebbins served as the Executive Vice President of Mission at Avera Health, a four-state Catholic health care system headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In that role he exercised system-level responsibility for mission and formation programs and, more broadly, for the integration of Avera's Catholic identity and mission into its operations. Dr. Stebbins has also served as the director of the Gonzaga Ethics Institute at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and as the director of the Arrupe Program in Social Ethics for Business at the Woodstock Theological Center, located at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Earlier in his career he worked as a registered nurse at Children's Hospital in Seattle. Dr. Stebbins holds a B.A. in philosophy from Gonzaga University, a B.S. in nursing from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College. He is the author of The Divine Initiative: Grace, World-Order, and Human Freedom in the Early Writings of Bernard Lonergan (University of Toronto Press). He and his wife Mary Kay have five children, ages 20 to 33. Dr. Stebbins can be contacted at


Founded at Seton Hall University in 1997, the Center for Catholic Studies is dedicated to fostering an ongoing dialogue between the Catholic intellectual tradition and all areas of study and contemporary culture. In the spirit of the Catholic Church's legacy of bringing forth things "new and old," the Center's scholarly research, publications, and programming serve to generate new initiatives and facilitate conversation and collaboration among faculty, administrators, students, and the general public.

The primary function of the Center for Catholic Studies (CCS) is to foster the Catholic mission of Seton Hall in creative ways. It endeavors to be an incubator for innovative initiatives in promoting Catholic identity across the university. It fulfills this role for diverse demographics within the university in five principal areas: Faculty Development, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Intellectual Life, Student Engagement, and Ongoing Innovation.
The Center developed the undergraduate program in Catholic Studies Program which offers a major, minor and certificate and continues to support the Program's students with scholarship aid as well as ongoing co-curricular activities. Focusing on the central role of the faculty, the Center also sponsors regular Faculty Development programs, including lectures, seminars and retreats. In addition, the Center administers two national faculty programs: Collegium: A Colloquy on Faith and Intellectual Life, and The Lilly Fellows Program.
The Center maintains a global focus in international scholarship and is the home of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture, as well as the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute. The Institutes offer opportunities for study and research, as well as ongoing programs related to faith and culture. In addition, the Micah Institute for Business and Economics concentrates on communicating Catholic Social Teaching and ethics to business education at Seton Hall and the wider business community. The Center also publishes the prestigious Chesterton Review and The Lonergan Review. For more information, visit

Categories: Education , Faith and Service

For more information, please contact:

  • Ashley Banks
  • 973-275-2407