Eileen Egan: Portrait of the life, lifestance, and pedagogy of a Catholic prophet of peace

Linda L Baratte, Fordham University


Eileen Egan was one of the leading Catholic peace activists of the 20 th century. She was the first layperson to work with Catholic Relief Services, founded Pax Christi USA, brought Mother Teresa's work to the attention of the world community, and was a companion to Dorothy Day and thirty-year associate editor of the Catholic Worker. Founding organizations for justice and peace, highlighting the violence inherent in the plight of the refugee, advocating for reform as journalist and author, pointing to the fresh exemplars of the character of Christ in the witness of Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day, calling forth an integrative understanding of Catholic social teachings—these are the legacies of Eileen Egan's lifelong commitment to international service and peacemaking. This work—humanistic, theological, and historical—is a biographic and critical study inscribing Egan's life. It is an integration of life and lifestance, making more explicit her contributions to the Catholic peace movement and her implicit theology and pedagogy of peacemaking. After first exploring Egan's key biographic markers, the study then positions Egan as a theologian using three classic sources of theological reflection (experience, Scripture, and Tradition). Using the narrative of her life and her over fifty years of writing and speaking on issues of peace and justice, it culls out eight themes of a systematic theology of peacemaking that undergird and emerge from her work. The study also explores Egan's legacy as a religious educator using the metaphors “prophet,” “advocate,” and “exemplar,” bringing her pedagogy and distinctive contribution to a reframing of a Catholic ethos of peace into conversation with educators and religious educators. The study argues that her critical questioning of the traditions, assumptions, and premises of Catholic teaching on war and peace is a sign of the emancipatory, transformative learning that is at the heart of what it means to engage in religious education. The study concludes with an analysis of Egan's theology and pedagogy of peacemaking, identifying areas where they are either incomplete or have presaged contemporary movements in reflecting on and educating about peace and war. It also examines links between peace and women's issues and explores the leadership style modeled by Egan that finds resonance in the management sciences.

Subject Area

Education history|Theology|Religious congregations|Biographies

Recommended Citation

Baratte, Linda L, "Eileen Egan: Portrait of the life, lifestance, and pedagogy of a Catholic prophet of peace" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3137772.