As she ends a 40-year teaching career at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara, pioneering feminist theologian and biblical scholar Sr. Sandra Schneiders has donated her professional papers to the University. Not long after Vatican II, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Sandra Schneiders was one of the first two nuns to receive a theology doctorate from a pontifical university. That was one of many firsts to come.

She was the first non-Jesuit and first woman professor to be tenured at the Jesuit School of Theology. She is an oft-cited theologian of St. John’s Gospel and in the field of hermeneutics, or how to interpret texts. As one of the first U.S. scholars to define Christian spirituality as an advanced, multidisciplinary field of study, she helped establish the country’s first doctoral program in Christian spirituality, at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is a highly regarded and sought-after expert in the modern-day theology and spirituality of women religious.

Like many pioneering women, Schneiders faced intense criticism and outright hostility over the years. But she trusted what was truly her “prophetic” role—an enunciator of truths—such as clear biblical support for women as church leaders; and a denunciator of policies that enshrine apathy toward the poor.

Read more about the life and work of Sandra Schneiders here.

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