About the Sponsors of Creighton University Celebrates the Legacy of Vatican II

The Barbara Reardon Heaney Chair in Pastoral Liturgical Theology

Chairholder:  Eileen C. Burke-Sullivan, S.T.D.

The Barbara Reardon Heaney Chair in Pastoral Liturgical Theology is a generous gift from the family of the late Barbara Reardon Heaney, MD'51. It is the seventh endowed chair in the Creighton University College of Arts and Sciences, the fifth in the Department of Theology, and the 34th established at Creighton University. Eileen C. Burke-Sullivan, S.T.D., associate professor of theology, is the inaugural chairholder.

The marriage and family life of Barbara Reardon Heaney, MD'51, and her husband, Robert P. Heaney, BS'47, MD'51, was grounded upon, and fortified by, a love for and participation in liturgical worship.

Barbara and Robert's journey together took them to other cities for further medical training before they settled in Omaha, where Robert began his long career at Creighton as a renowned professor and researcher in the School of Medicine and holder of the John A. Creighton University Professor endowed chair.

The couple's love for each other blossomed at a time in the Roman Catholic Church when the liturgical movement was flourishing and theology that led to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy at Vatican II was taking shape.

In their first year of marriage, they attended Holy Cross parish in north St. Louis, where they were inspired by Msgr. Martin B. Hellriegel, regarded as the foremost pastoral liturgist in the country at the time. His parish was considered a national prototype of lay involvement in public worship. He advocated for participation by the faithful in liturgies, not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and choir.

Barbara Reardon Heaney was first and foremost a wife and mother, but also a compassionate psychiatrist. She offered her professional services to numerous charitable and religious organizations during her children's formative years and then, after the couple's seven children were raised, she began her private practice, seeing patients in her home office. Her husband says she "used medicine sparingly," preferring more of a "counselor" approach to psychiatry. At her funeral in 2006, many of her former patients told her husband, "She saved my life."

She first developed her love for liturgy at Rosary Cathedral in Toledo, where she grew up, and her earliest childhood memory was of making the sign of the cross at church. The couple worshiped together at St. John's Church on the Creighton campus and incorporated liturgical elements into their family life, such as reading the Psalms around the family table after dinner. Barbara was a faithful participant in St. John's Sunday evening Vespers prayer service from its inception in 1977 until two weeks before her death, calling it "the most perfect form of worship" and relishing in the great peace that it brought her.

Pastoral liturgical theology explores both the theoretical/scholarly and practical/pastoral aspects of liturgy as the source and summit of Christian life. The Barbara Reardon Heaney Chair in Pastoral Liturgical Theology will serve to further Creighton University's commitment to the importance of public worship in the life of the Church and will provide an underpinning to the traditional Jesuit emphasis on social justice. It will allow as many Creighton students as possible to possess greater knowledge of their faith, so they can go out into the world, or return home, to participate and become leaders in their communities of worship.


The Center For Catholic Thought

Director: John J. O'Keefe, PhD

The Center for Catholic Thought at Creighton University exists to feature and explore the Catholic intellectual tradition, broadly conceived, as it is expressed within and among the various disciplines of the Catholic university. While drawing upon the expertise of trained academics, the Center seeks to make that expertise widely available, serving as a bridge between the Catholic tradition and the broader culture.

The Center was created in 2009. The Center serves students, faculty, and the local Catholic community through a series of programs designed to explore and promote the Church's intellectual tradition.

The Catholic Church has a long history of engaging the intersection of faith and reason. Catholicism, to mention one example, sees no conflict between the conclusions of science and the proclamation of the Gospel. Catholic Universities are especially well positioned to become intentional centers of excellence where the Catholic intellectual tradition is able to prosper and thrive.

The Center currently sponsors the podcast Catholic Comments, the annual Michael G. Lawler Theology Lecture, an annual lecture by a prominent church leader, and various interdisciplinary programs throughout the academic year.