Last summer, Pope Francis called for the development of a profound theology of women in the Church. On April 1, theologian Gina Hens-Piazza will give the St Mary's Academy inaugural lecture on Women in Theology. Her topic is "Ruth: Critic of Culture, Custom and Common Sense, the Foundation for Women's Spirituality." The public is invited to attend the lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the St. Mary's Academy Clark Family Auditorium.

"In 1859 when the Holy Names Sisters came to Oregon to open St. Mary's Academy, they carried with them a theology of women to share with their students," says Patty Gorman, St. Mary's Academy theology department chair. "Through the years, this theology has continued to develop and grow through prayer, study and service. We are excited that Pope Francis has called for the official Church to develop a deeper theology of women. We hope to be a part of that conversation."

Hens-Piazza received a master's degree in biblical studies from Vanderbilt University and was a faculty member at St. Mary's from 1976-'79. She taught at University of Portland from 1979-'88. In 1992, she received a PhD from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is now a professor at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, and has been on the faculty of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, since 1992.

She is the author of five books and many articles that address topics of biblical justice, specifically in regards to women. She was the recipient of the Catholic Press Association Award for her work on violence against women in Joshua and Judges. Her forthcoming manuscript, "Supporting Cast vs. Supporting Caste - How We Read the Bible Matters," examines the major importance of minor characters in the Bible and their counterparts in our own world.

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