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Beloved theology professor loses fight with cancer

Russell Connors.
Russell Connors.
Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10.

Russell B. Connors, professor of theology, died Tuesday morning.

His wife, Patricia Cahalan Connors, is chair of St. Catherine's music and theater department. They have two children, Elizabeth and Patrick.

Dr. Connors joined the St. Catherine University community in 1995 and chaired the theology department from 2000 to 2010.

“Russ Connors is a revered teacher and scholar at St. Catherine University, beloved by his students and colleagues,” said University President Andrea J. Lee, IHM. “He is also a loving husband and father and a treasured member of the St. Catherine community. We will miss him dearly.”

In January, Connors presented the prestigious 2011 Sister Anne Joachim Moore lecture at the University's annual internal conference, the Teaching and Learning Network (TLN). He spoke with courage and compassion about his fight with cancer during that lecture and in an article in SCAN magazine in February.

Connors also was honored in 2001 with the University’s Denny Prize for Excellence in Writing for “Catholic Social Teaching – Convictions and Connections,” which was published in The Global Search for Justice, the textbook for the St. Kate’s senior liberal arts capstone course.

A prolific author, he recently had the article "Short Stories and the Christian Imagination" published in New Theology Review, and in June, the prestigious journal Theological Studies published "The Grace of Indirection and the Moral Imagination” — Connors’s study of the possible impact of the arts, especially the literary arts, on moral and spiritual formation.

He also wrote a book, In the Breath of God: Christian Morality, which was published by Loyola Press in 2000. He collaborated with Patrick T. McCormick of Gonzaga University on two more: Facing the Issues: Dimensions of Character, Choices and Community and Character, Choices and Community: The Three Faces of Christian Morality that were published by Paulist Press in 2002 and 1998, respectively.

Previously he was on faculty at John Carroll University and St. Mary Seminary-Graduate School of Theology, both in Ohio.

Connors was a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Society of Christian Ethics.

He obtained a baccalaureate degree from Borromeo Seminary College and a master of divinity degree from St. Mary Seminary-Graduate School of Theology, both in Ohio.  He attended the Pontifical Lateran University-Academia Alfonsiana in Rome where he received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) and a Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.), both summa cum laude. He was also a Bioethics Program Fellow from 1990-1991 at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

Obituaries appeared in recent editions of the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

 Visitation will be Friday, July 8, 4-8 p.m. with a Vigil Service at 7 p.m. at O'Halloran & Murphy Funeral Home, 575 South Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, Minn., 55116.

Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 9, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 515 Albert Street South, Saint Paul, MN 55116 (Corner of Randolph Ave. & Albert St.). 

July 7, 2011 by Julie Michener

See also: Catholic Identity, Education, Faculty